Audible Crime Scenes: ShotSpotter as Diagnostic, Policing, and Space-making Infrastructure

Edward B. Kang, Simogne Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acoustic gunshot detection systems (AGDS) have been emerging as a technological solution to the growing problem of gun violence around the world. We examine a particularly prominent AGDS technology called RespondTM developed by publicly traded US company ShotSpotter Inc. (NASDAQ: SSTI) to better understand the sociotechnical logics that inform its operation. Drawing from frameworks provided by science and technology studies and sound studies, we ask, “What are the broader conditions that allow for a successful AGDS as it is imagined by ShotSpotter?” At a time in which the accuracy and reliability of ShotSpotter’s AGDS are being seriously questioned through the numerous reports of false positives that reached as high as 99 percent in certain cities it was deployed in, it is imperative to interrogate what exactly is “false” in these false positive reports and how the company operates despite them. In this paper, we trace ShotSpotter and its artificial intelligence/machine learning AGDS technologies as they exist across various patents, promotional materials, financial documents, and public statements to not only better understand the ways in which they translate sound into “crime,” or space into “crime scene,” but also to bring attention to how ShotSpotter translates itself across its different audiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)646-672
Number of pages27
JournalScience Technology and Human Values
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2024


  • AGDS
  • AI/ML
  • ShotSpotter
  • acoustic gunshot detection
  • carceral technologies
  • listening technologies
  • predictive policing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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