Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Almost like Minority Report

Vis deploying the military and all available forces to catch the DC sniper, why doesn’t some enterprising hacker cobble together a sensitive microphone, a PocketPC, a GPS card and a wifi card such that the contraptions can be placed all over as sort of a virtual neighborhood watch (er, rather listen). They could be placed on law enforcement vehicles and at likely areas of attack. The killer app (sorry) would be an algorithm that listens for sounds like gunshots and timestamps them along with the location (of the PocketPCs et al) where heard. The GPS provides the time and location info. If three or more stations hear the shot then you have a fix (i.e. the location of the shooter) based on location and time differential of the listening stations when the shot was fired. Actually if only two stations hear a shot, probable location of the shooter can be narrowed down to two points. All of these calculations can occur in real time and be used to deploy reconnaissance and law enforcement assets to the area of the shot for follow up. Come to think of it, this would be useful for general law enforcement as well as anti-sniper activities. It does not raise my civil libertarian hackles because, as a law abiding citizen, I am happy to have the police show up promptly if I have to shoot someone.