John Houston of MIT has recently invented a way to automatically detect a gunshot and then the mobile phones present in its vicinity. This will help security agencies detect and track suspects as well as witnesses that may not come forward otherwise.
John research was funded by the US Air Force which will remove the inadequacies of current detection systems. At present, a human operator starts tracking mobile devices after a gun crime gets reported. This gives enough time for the suspect(s) to flee from getting tracked.
This invention completely overcomes the problem. As soon as a gunshot is fired, it first detects the crime spot and right away starts identifying mobile devices in the vicinity.
Now you must be wondering how it detects gunshots and what process it follows to track mobile devices. Aren’t you? Let’s find out the working of this invention.
How it detects the location of a gunshot and tracks nearby mobile devices?
The system developed by John is capable of deciphering the noise generated by a gunshot in an environment. Multiple acoustic sensors deployment will be needed to make this happen. One embodiment of John’s patent proposes deploying these sensors on cell towers, rooftops, and light pole like structures.
Multiple acoustic sensors deployment will be needed to make this happen. One embodiment of John’s patent proposes deploying these sensors on cell towers, rooftops, and light pole like structures.
John earlier developed a system to decipher acoustic vibrations by landmines from other sources to detect the presence of landmines. It was John’s Master’s thesis in 2008 at Mechanical Engg Dept. of MIT.
Now to find and track smartphones nearby a gun crime spot, it uses the cell-site simulator, commonly known as Stingray. This technique is already being used by various law enforcement agencies. To give you an example, only the Baltimore Police Dept. used Stingray 4300 times between 2007 to 2015.
The cell-site simulator masquerades as a real cell phone tower and makes devices in its range to connect to it.
After that, it collects information like International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), an International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI), Electronic Serial Number (ESN) and the like that help in the tracking task.
So this is how the invention will be functioning. In my opinion, this can bring the number of gun crimes down as chances of getting caught will be higher. This may discourage a lot of lunatics from pressing the trigger. On the other hand, this may raise privacy concerns for many.
Detect a thing now is not a big deal, even one could find a lost credit card as MasterCard has found a similar way to track its location. The company also tracks smartphones to find the location of a lost credit card.