Identifying gun incidents in real time can help police, respond faster, identify criminals and reduce gun violence. Existing systems are expensive to deploy and operate which prevents some cities from being able to access the solution and to deploy in a large enough area to be effective. Existing systems can also take a long-time to provide responding officer with the inncident information which limits an effective response. 

The ASU CIC and the Phoenix Police Department worked together to reimagine how to develop a solution that would be inexpensive, easy to deploy extensively, reduce societal challenges with how they are used, and turn a gunshot detection alerts into identified offenders. 


Today, over 2,000 gun incidents occur in the City of Phoenix each year on average and the rate of gun violence is increasing according to EveryStat for Gun Violence. Additionally,  gun violence costs Arizona taxpayers $263.2 million each year. According to the CDC (2019), Arizona has a rate of death due to firearm injury of 15.1 per 100,000 and 1,136 citizens died of firearm injury in 2019. Getting the right information to the right officers at the right time is a challenge to identifying , catching, and prosecuting offenders. Without a gunshot detection system, police have to rely on being in the area at the right time or a 911 call, which puts too much time between the gunshot and responding officers. Too often with existing gunshot detection systems there is a long delay between the time a gun is fired and when patrol officers receive the alert. By the time responding officers get to the scene, the offenders have fled. The cost of other detection systems prevents the wide scale deployment, which limits effectiveness.


This project is developing a low cost, open-source gun shot detection system. The ASU CIC built a sensor system from scratch to run a highly accurate detection algorithm. The algorithm was developed at ASU and identifies the discharge of a firearm in a completely different way than existing commercial solutions.   

Supporting Artifacts

The Working Backwards Process creates a fictional press release with frequently asked questions and a visualization of the solution. These can be found below. 

Next Steps

The ASU CIC has developed the prototype solution.  Check out the prototype solution on Github.

About the ASU CIC

The ASU Smart Cities Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) is a strategic relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is supported by AWS on ASU’s Innovation campus - SkySong. The mission of the CIC is to drive Innovation Challenges that materially benefit the greater Phoenix metro area and beyond. The CIC will do this by solving pressing community and regional challenges, using shareable and repeatable technology solutions from ideation through prototype, as a service for the greater human good.

The CIC also provides real-world problem-solving experiences to students by immersing them in the application of proven innovation methods in combination with the latest technologies to solve important challenges in the public sector. 

The challenges being addressed cover a wide variety of topics including homelessness, water conservation, vandalism, pedestrian safety, digital service delivery and many others. The CIC leverages the deep subject matter expertise of government, education and non-profit organizations to clearly understand the customers affected by public sector challenges and develops solutions that meet the customer needs.

For more information on the ASU CIC, to read about projects or to submit a challenge, please visit