Carnegie Mellon University

CMU Develops Video System that can Locate Mass Shooter

November 20, 2019

CMU Develops Video System that can Locate Mass Shooter

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a video system that, using as few as three smartphones, can accurately locate a shooter for use by public safety, human rights workers and journalists investigating terrorist acts, war crimes and human rights violations.

By using video from three or more smartphones, the direction from which the shots were fired — and the shooter’s location — can be calculated based on the differences in how long it takes the muzzle blast to reach each camera, according to a CMU press release.

When demonstrated using three video recordings from the 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and 413 wounded, the system correctly estimated the shooter’s location — the north wing of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The estimate was based on three gunshots fired within the first minute of the prolonged massacre.

Alexander Hauptmann, research professor in CMU’s Language Technologies Institute, said the system, called Video Event Reconstruction and Analysis (VERA), won’t necessarily replace the commercial microphone arrays for locating shooters that public safety officials already use.

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