November 12, 2013: SST, a company based in Newark (CA), has been contracted to install the ShotSpotter Site Sescure system of gunshot detection in some Bay Area schools, according to Heather Somerville, reporting in yesterday's Mercury News, "...that will help police respond faster to mass shootings such as the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre... but privacy advocates are concerned about the surveillance technology."
...[If a shooting occurs at the Oakland charter school that will be installing the system] a person 25 miles away, sitting in a small, dark room on the second floor of a building in a Newark business park, will hear the gunshots and - within seconds - push a button to notify police. The information will hit police car computer screens instantly and include a floor plan of the school showing which classroom the shots were fired in, the type of gun used, and which direction the shooter or shooters appear to be moving. If more shots are fired, police almost instantly will know the exact location. Classroom teachers and staff can also get instant messages advising them to lock down their rooms - or run. A sensor about the size of a light switch will be placed in every room in the school, including open areas and hallways. The sensors are designed to detect the pressure changes and infrared heat associated with gunshots.
However, the ... surveillance technology [$15,000 set-up fee and $10,000 per year thereafter] that can also record voices inside schools has set off alarms among privacy advocates...
“Expanding the use of ShotSpotter technology to include school campuses could carry the cost of jeopardizing … our privacy rights,” said Jory Steele, managing attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
"It's not an investment that makes sense," said Jody London, an Oakland school board member, adding that it would be a huge expense to outfit the 90 district schools, given how rare school shootings are. "What is a problem are guns on the streets and kids not being able to get home safely."
Spending $1 million a year to listen for unlikely gunshots doesn't make sense, she said.