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Shooters can be located with smartphone video using new CMU-developed tool

PITTSBURGH — A new tool that uses smartphones to help locate a shooter has been developed by researchers at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University.

The system works to determine a shooter's location based on video recordings from as few as three smartphones. It's called Video Event Reconstruction and Analysis (VERA).

A demonstration of the tool used three video recordings from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. It correctly estimated the shooter's location in the north wing of the Mandalay Bay hotel, according to CMU.

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While VERA uses video to calculate the position of each smartphone camera, the audio is what is crucial in tracking down the source of gunshots, researchers said.

VERA won't replace gunshot detection systems such as ShotSpotter, which is used in Pittsburgh, but it could be useful in places where similar systems are not set up.

Researchers said VERA was initially created with human rights workers and journalists who investigate war crimes, terrorist acts and human rights violations in mind.