With the images of gun violence, panic, injury, and death at the forefront of everyone's mind yesterday, the Rockford City Council has approved the purchase of the ShotSpotter Flex, a gunfire detection and location analyzer system.

In a nutshell, what the ShotSpotter system does is alert police to gunfire when it happens. It can also help guide not only the cops, but other first-responders to precise locations so that victims can be helped sooner, and crimes may be solved more quickly.

Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea told MyStateline.com:

"ShotSpotter is utilized in many cities across the country," said O'Shea. "We know it. I've seen it in other jurisdictions. I've seen it in action. I've seen it work."

ShotSpotter can put officers within 75 feet of where the shooting happened. Also, O'Shea warns reports of shots fired will go up, since it can detect shootings that may not necessarily be reported by residents.

ShotSpotter doesn't come cheaply. It's an initial $310,000 investment, which covers the installation and training--then it's $260,000 per year thereafter if the city decides that it's worth having.

So, what does it do? Here's what the ShotSpotter website says:

Only ShotSpotter Flex combines wide-area acoustic surveillance with centralized cloud-based analysis to provide a gunfire alert and analysis service that is immediate, accurate and cost-effective.
ShotSpotter Flex uses multiple collaborative acoustic sensors that activate when gunfire occurs, providing comprehensive outdoor coverage over complex urban geographies.
When there is a shooting outdoors, ShotSpotter sensors and
software triangulate and pinpoint the precise location of each round fired within seconds. Detailed incident data is immediately sent to the SST Incident Review Center (IRC), our secure data processing and alert qualification facility. Immediately, an SST gunfire and acoustics expert analyzes the data and qualifies the incident. Once validated an alert is sent to dispatch centers, Public Safety Answer Points (PSAP) and directly to field personnel through any computer or mobile device with access to the Internet, all in under a minute.