Public gatherings pose a security challenge to services tasked with maintaining law and order and, most importantly, safety. The chaos that can emanate from crowd unrest or protest situations necessitates fast, accurate information. For example, being able to pinpoint exactly if and where a gunshot originated will assist safety forces to respond in a controlled, measured manner.
Information such as the source co-ordinates, the type and range of the shot is key data in assisting authorities to provide a fast, effective and informed response that can save lives.
A prototype acoustic gunshot detection system, recently developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is able to confirm whether an impulse noise (such as a sharp, loud bang) was a real gunshot and can identify where the shot came from.
This demonstrator comprises sensors in a unique three-dimensional array and related analogue and digital electronics.
Included here is a dedicated processing unit running custom algorithms that provide real-time signal processing.
Data received triggers the transfer of the impulse detection and location to a software platform running on an auxiliary computer.
A graphical user interface displays the signal and gunshot information to the user in a real-time polar form, indicating the relative and actual bearing relative to the orientation of the array. It is possible for the system to identify the calibre of the gun from the signature of the shot.
All data parameters are recorded and available for post-analysis.
The system is able to interface with command centres via the C-more network. An ability to rapidly dispatch information to a designated control room or operations centre will enable situation commanders to respond tactically to evolving events. Such key data is required by authorities to formulate and execute an appropriate response to a threat.
The system is small and cost-effective to produce. It can be operated from static and mobile installations and from varied power sources such as batteries and solar power, rendering it adaptable to local environments. Applications include crowd control operations by the South African Police Service, peacekeeping missions and border patrols helping to detect and locate hostile activity.