By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro’s gunshot detection system, a series of audio sensors placed strategically throughout the city to pick up sounds of gunfire and alert police to the shooting’s location, has been abandoned despite a R$1.3 million investment and record-breaking increases in gun violence and crime, according to local news reports.
The gunshot detection system, also known as gunfire locator, was imported from the U.S. where it was largely credited with curbing gun violence in major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington D.C.
The system relies on a group of audio sensors installed up to forty feet off the ground. Each sensor records the sound, time, and location of sudden noises like shots or bangs and immediately alerts local authorities.
In some cases, the audio technology is sensitive enough to identify gun gauges within a ten-meter margin of error.
In Rio de Janeiro, the system was first installed in 2012 for a cost of R$1.3 million, according to Rio de Janeiro State’s Department of Security. However, with the arrival of the country’s deep fiscal crisis and recession, the city forgo the technology in 2015 and today the sensors sit abandoned at various points throughout the city.
“When you think about implementing a new technology, you do not just have to use it. You have to do a preliminary study to see how it fits into reality,” explained security systems analyst Bruno Siqueira to Globo news.
“You have to think about how you will be able to maintain the technology and who will manage the data,” he added.
In Brazil, the gunshot-detecting technology was first used in Canoas, in Rio Grande do Sul. The technology was installed in Canoas in September 2010 and it was the first city outside the U.S. to deploy the system.
Similar to Rio however, the system was abandoned in 2015 due to the hefty maintenance cost, estimated at R$158,000 a month. In addition, Canoas government officials alleged that the equipment was ineffective in that it often confused fireworks for gunfire.