Secret Service seeks gunshot detection technology

The Secret Service sent out a request for information for surveillance equipment that can locate the source of a gunshot.

The Secret Service may be in the market for surveillance equipment that can detect gunshots.

A Jan. 18 request for information for the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service says the agencies are "seeking information on commercially available gunshot detection technologies for fixed site surveillance applications."

The request specifies that the agencies would need gunshot detection for tens to hundreds of acres within urban areas. They also request a gunshot detection rate over 95 percent.

Gunshot detection equipment is nothing new. A May 28 New York Times article detailed similar technology being used by an increasing number of cities. According to the article, technology like ShotSpotter is allowing cities to pinpoint the source of gunfire seconds after it occurs.

But ShotSpotter and similar systems have encountered controversy. The Times article cited the expense of the systems and noted that other noises, like loud arguments, can mistakenly get picked up and recorded.

The Secret Service's request specifies that the agency does not want outside parties monitoring any potential gunshot detection system. The request does not promise that the Secret Service will definitely invest in gunshot detection, but says a request for proposals from companies who make detection technology is "anticipated."

According to its website, the Secret Service protects the president, vice president, former presidents and visiting heads of state, as well as the families of those they protect. The agency also provides security for events like the presidential inauguration.

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