By Brad Edwards

(CBS) – Chicago police are turning to technology to fight violence by installing more “ShotSpotter” systems so that they can respond the moment gunfire erupts.

But will they help? CBS 2’s Brad Edwards says they promise to drastically reduce response times when it comes to shootings.

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The antenna-like contraption sense gunshots fired in the area. They can then triangulate a near spot-on position of those shots fired and immediately notify the nearest officers. This real-time information will also be accessible on smart phones.

“The ability to receive mobile ShotSpotter notifications and access intelligence data will help the police officers reduce the response time,” Supt. Eddie Johnson said. “And, in some instances, make the difference between life and death.”

It’s up and running in the Englewood and Harrison Districts. It will also be going up in the Austin and Deering Districts.

Police said the ShotSpotter gunshot detection sensors were first installed in small sections in Englewood and Harrison because they accounted for more than a third of the increase in homicides last year.

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Additional sensors will be installed in both districts.

Community activist Andrew Holmes says the technology is appreciated, but it’s only part of the solution. A more important part, he says, is community members. They need to tell police who is responsible for crimes.

“I’m happy to see it because it can pinpoint it right away,” he said. “But it’s not going to solve crime. The community still has to stand up and say, ‘hey, Ray Ray did it.’ They have to speak up and speak out. Simple as that.”

Still, ShotSpotters can be seen as a tool, a new set of ears in the sky, and its mere presence may be part of the remedy.

In fact, shootings are down year-to-year in both of the districts that currently utilize ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology.

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The remaining two districts will implement their sensors before summer, with a couple more districts following suit before the end of the year.

Brad Edwards