The “ShotSpotter” voice surveillance system is being promoted by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Deputy Police Chief Bash as a crime fighting tool capable of locating a gunshot within a 20-foot radius and determining the type and caliber of the weapon.

The ShotSpotter records everything it hears and simply selects what to detect. The sensor system associated with the software signals processing and alert system is designed to be incorporated into streetlights. ShotSpotter partnered with GE's CityIQ project that would incorporate surveillance cameras, ShotSpotter sensors, a WiFi hotspot and intelligent on-demand low power consumption LED lighting into a single streetlight.

The targeted pilot neighborhood for the ShotSpotter program is the Hilltop, though the project is budgeted to cover the entire city. However, it appears the Hilltop did not receive the whole package.

A nighttime survey of the area by a Mockingbird researcher found not a single LED, merely the same old energy hungry bulbs in use throughout the city with their characteristic yellowish light struggling to illuminate anything. No free WiFi hotspots were noted either.

Thus, the Hilltop area got all of the surveillance without any of the benefits of the total infrastructure package. Like racist redlining that was official in the past and unofficial today, the neighborhood may have been “greenlined” – it's people deemed unworthy of green infrastructure or free access to community and global communication systems. It is as if their speech is interesting only to police and not any other part of the government.

The ShotSpotter program was loudly touted by Mayor Ginther in mid-July 2018, one month before Columbus Police Vice Cop Andrew Mitchell murdered Donna Dalton in his unmarked car in a place that would have been covered by this pilot surveillance program. It could have easily recorded everything and been more evidence to be withheld from her family and public as a murdering police officer walked free without charges as they have done in every single case in Columbus in the last 25 years. Officer Mitchell has notably been charged with several crimes in recent days.

The Linden neighborhood is also being aggressively targeted by Mayor Ginther for additional policing as the shock troops of gentrification continue to expand there.

ShotSpotter is part of a program called Smart City, which is a partnership between the charitable foundation of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). Columbus is one of seven finalist cities for the $50 million dollar grant. CityIQ is also a stakeholder in the competition turned national pilot program.

The seven finalist cities were Pittsburgh, Columbus, Austin, Denver, San Francisco, Kansas City and Portland. All appear to be going forward with their plans in whole or in part regardless of winning or losing the grant. Many, including Columbus, tailored their plans to fit into the incentives package each planned to lure the second Amazon HQ, that was won by New York City.

New York City got Amazon. Columbus got $40 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $10 million from Vulcan, Inc, which is not the Paul G. Allen charitable foundation, but Paul Allen's venture capital firm with a history of CIA-linked surveillance investment in online voting company Scytl, local election manipulator Airbnb, and neighborhood based blockwatch project

Indeed, CityIQ was part of the Columbus project until it suddenly disappeared. On the August 31, 2017 the official website for Smart City Columbus announced its plans to use CityIQ to watch every car in the city, ostensibly to “better plan parking.” They claim “The Parking Planning service provides parking metadata that is collected from CityIQ’s intelligent nodes installed on all street lights along public roadways or in parking lots...”

Today that same webpage can be seen as error 404-dead as a doornail, “not found.” After searching the Wayback machine at, the Mockingbird found that the page had disappeared in August of 2018, right as ShotSpotter was announced as a program and budgeted through a line marked for Department of Police in the city utility budget.

It can be clearly seen the lights were planned, were advertised, were budgeted, paid for with debt, and not delivered to the pilot neighborhood. When they never arrived, the free WiFi never arrived with them. However, the listening devices that were basically a ride along service adjunct to the street lights did arrive, and with great fanfare.

The SmartCity initiative has moved forward with great fanfare, putting its strategic partners, like AEP, Toyota and OSU front and center. They have not put GE, ShotSpotter or Vulcan Capital front and center, replacing them with the friendlier half of their Janus face as the Paul G. Allen foundation. The greenling is real, as some neighborhoods will get no benefits from this so-called smart and so-called green initiative only after the Columbus Division of Police is done with their slow-motion ethnic cleansing. Because in Mayor Ginther's new “Smart” Columbus, the green smart things are only for wealthy people in selected areas.