Today, researchers at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville have developed a smartphone app that can detect the origin of gunfire. Meanwhile, London’s The People’s Supermarket is one example of a grocery store that offers lower prices in exchange for a few hours work each month.
Gunshots have a unique sound that can be separated out from ambient noise due to the fact that the majority produce a “muzzle blast – an expanding balloon of sound that spreads out from the muzzle each time the rifle is fired”, followed by the “distinctive shockwaves” created by traveling bullets, the team explain. The app is combined with an external sensor module, which contains multiple high-sensitivity microphones that can detect when a gunshot is fired. Using triangulation based on the differing times the soundwaves hit each microphone, the device then sends information about the direction and distance of the shot to the smartphone via Bluetooth, overlayed onto a map of the location. The system currently takes the form of two versions; one which uses only one microphone module that provides a rough estimate of the location, and another which relies on six separate modules, which could be placed on the persons of separate officers, to provide an accurate location of the shooter.
The app could help police forces, soldiers or even civilians by providing them with greater information when under attack, potentially saving lives. Could the technology be modified to detect the location of other types of soundwaves – such as explosions to help firefighters locate the cause of a blaze, or the epicenter of an earthquake to help emergency responders?
On another front this week, springwise.com reports the Portobello supermarket in Italy is hoping to use the business model to tackle unemployment and poverty in an area struck by the credit crisis.
Unemployment in Italy has peaked in recent months, even reaching a 20-year high of 11.7 percent in January. Such figures have a detrimental effect on local governments as the number of families relying on benefits rises. The Social Services of the City of Modena – in collaboration with the Association for Voluntary Services Modena – has launched the Portobello emporium, which is fitted out in much the same way as a typical grocery store. However, each item is assigned a value in points, rather than Euros, which are issued to local residents after means testing, according to their individual or family situation. The most needy are entitled to a greater number of points to spend. Participants in the scheme are also required – if they’re able – to volunteer at the supermarket or other projects in Modena. This way, community members can help each other and themselves to improve their quality of life by directly working for the sustenance and home goods they receive as benefit from the local government. Working Modena residents can also help out by donating money or grocery products to the scheme, or volunteering their own time.
The Portobello supermarket provides a central space for unemployed and poor residents in Italy to both contribute and benefit, while local governments ensure that their welfare remunerations are used for items necessary to live, rather than squandered. As Italy isn’t the only country suffering from high unemployment rates at the moment – especially in Europe – could local authorities in your part of the world implement a similar scheme?