Ricochet News

EXPLAINER: How ShotSpotter works to alert law enforcement to gunfire

By Afikile Lugunya - Feb 7, 2018
EXPLAINER: How ShotSpotter works to alert law enforcement to gunfire

You have probably heard that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, in an effort to address gun-related violence in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth, partnered with American service provider and installed a technology called ShotSpotter in Helenvale.

ShotSpotter is actually an android application that helps police officers and other law enforcement agents to detect where, when, what time a shot was fired and how many shots were fired.

Introduced by the current administration led by Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, in partnership with Ralph Clark, President and Chief Executive Officer at ShotSpotter, the Metro says that the system has borne results in Helenvale.

Following his visit to Helenvale on Monday evening, Trollip said that he observed a peaceful community – adding, however, that he was aware, it only gets quiet when he visits.

He said that due to budget constraints, ShotSpotter will only be available in Helenvale for now.

Trollip added that this doesn’t mean that other townships are better than others but, due to the percentage of crime in the area over the past years, Helenvale had to take priority.

Clark was amused by how close the Metro police work with SAPS, which described as ‘amazing’ as it shows unity amongst safety providers in the city and is looking forward to being part of the community.

He hopes ShotSpotter, as a tool, crimes will decrease.


ShotSpotter Respond is available EXCLUSIVELY to users granted access by law enforcement agencies and who subscribe to the ShotSpotter service.

With ShotSpotter gunshot alerts are delivered real-time to mobile devices, which means law enforcement officials respond quickly, safely and with confidence.

It provides the nearest street address to the source of the gunshot. 

The app features include:

- Real-time ShotSpotter gunshot alerts with unique audible alert,

- Precise gunshot location and round count,

- Time since trigger pull,

- 360-degree street view and 25-meter evidence search area,

- 7-day, 3-day and 24-hour incident list and map view,

- Daytime/night-time user interface themes, and

- User selectable agency district/beat and ShotSpotter coverage areas.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Metro Police Chief, Yolanda Farrow, said that there is a small deployment from her office that will focus on responding to alerts on the application in order to make a success of it.

WATCH: Security executive director Brigadier Keith Meyer explains more about the app