Headlines at Hopkins
Media Advisory

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

Media Advisory
Gunshot Detection System Demonstration

November 11, 2008

To: Reports, editors, producers

From: Tracey Reeves | 443-287-9960 | treeves@jhu.edu

THE STORY: Johns Hopkins University Campus Safety and Security in collaboration with the Baltimore Police Department, Planning Systems Inc. and iXP Corp., will demonstrate a new system that can detect and locate gunfire in the Charles Village area.

Baltimore police tactical units will fire several live rounds into a sand-filled dump truck to demonstrate how sensors installed in the area and transmitted to a TV screen in the university's Homewood campus communication center will be able to pinpoint the location of a gunshot. University security would then notify Baltimore police.

The demonstration will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20, at Charles and 29th streets in the Wyman Park Dell area, south of the university's Homewood campus.

IF YOU WISH TO COVER THE DEMONSTRATION: Please RSVP to Tracey Reeves at 443-287-9960 or treeves@jhu.edu. Parking is available along the service road to the west of Charles Street at 29th near Dell Park.

BACKGROUND: This is the first installation of the system, known as SECURES, around a college or university campus. It is designed to add another layer of security to the university and Charles Village communities, which already benefit from the university's "smart" closed-circuit television cameras, a close cooperative relationship between police and campus officers, and other measures.

The system, which will be operational Thursday at midnight, relies on 93 sensors installed on city-owned streetlights and Johns Hopkins off-campus buildings in the area from University Parkway to the north, 25th Street to the south, Barclay Street to the east, and Charles Street to the west. South of 29th Street to 25th Street, there is additional coverage extending west to Howard Street.

The sensors automatically detect a gunshot's acoustic signature and transmit related information wirelessly to a receiving station. That detection information is then forwarded within three to five seconds over a secure network connection to the communication center. At the center, the gunshot location is displayed on a 40-inch LCD screen with an alert indicating the nearest address and building for dispatch. The sensors use patented technology to differentiate between gunfire, fireworks and vehicle backfire. A series of gunshots could indicate a running gunman and the SECURES system would track the direction of his travel.

In the event of a gunshot, the communication center would immediately notify the Baltimore Police Department's Northern District, which would dispatch officers to the scene.

Edmund Skrodzki, executive director for campus safety and security at the Homewood campus, said the gunshot detection system has a 90 percent accuracy rate with a false positive rate of 7 percent.

"Working together with the Baltimore Police Department, I believe that this new addition to our security measures will benefit our campus population as well as our neighbors in the surrounding area. By allowing us to identify gunshot occurrences accurately, we can give the Baltimore Police Department the ability to respond quickly, to give aid to victims as well as to apprehend the criminals," Skrodzki said. "Being proactive and using the best technology tools available often deters crime, enhancing the safety and security of our students and our community."

The system, which was obtained at no cost to the university, was developed by Planning Systems Inc. of Reston, Va., a technology firm that specializes in threat detection devices and whose parent company, QinetiQ, a global science and research organization. PSI hopes to bring the technology to other college and university campuses.