Gunshot detection system expanding across city of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — The gunshot detection system that Pittsburgh has used in the East End for several years now is about to expand across the city.

For the past three years, ShotSpotter has been detecting gunshots and alerting police and medics in a 3-mile area in the East End from Larimer to Homewood.  Target 11's Rick Earle spoke to Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich about the system.

It's been very successful," Hissrich said.  "We've saved numerous lives with it."

Since 2015, 83 gunshot victims have been located because of ShotSpotter. It led police to make 48 arrests in an area where gunfire is so common residents rarely call 911. The city is now expanding ShotSpotter to cover 18 square miles, or 80 percent of the area where shots are reported.

The expanded system will cover five other city areas, including the Northside, the West End, the Southside and Hazelwood.  Another area from Uptown to the Hill District to Oakland will also be covered. Duquense University, Carlow, Pitt and part of CMU are all included in that coverage zone.

"Once we get the technology, we will be working with them as far as notification procedures," Hissrich told Rick Earle.


Target 11 reached out to some of the universities. A spokesperson for Pitt wrote back, "The university is supportive of the city’s efforts to control crime in the neighborhood of Oakland and throughout Pittsburgh."

CMU students expressed similar sentiments.

"It feels good," said Shweta Dhra. "You know a safe place. To have a system like that."

In addition to universities and colleges within the coverage area, there will also be a number of Pittsburgh Public Schools covered as well. The eventual goal is to link surveillance cameras to the network. Pittsburgh Public Safety Technology Director Dan Shak tells us that will be an even more powerful tool.


"The cameras in the area are able to focus on those incidents," Shak said. "It may not find the actual incident but a vehicle fleeing, a subject fleeing will allow evidence located on the cameras. It's a huge advantage to us to have these two systems married together."

Once ShotSpotter equipment is installed and ready to go,  the city will reach out to colleges and universities in the coverage zone.

"Once the system is brought on line we plan to do some training for the Pittsburgh agencies as well as some of our partners just so everyone is familiar with the system," Shak tells Target 11.

The new expanded ShotSpotter system is scheduled to be up and running by the end of this year.