Sounds of buzzing mosquitoes are driving American teens away from loitering at recreational centres across the US and preventing vandalism. But guess what, it's just a bug machine.
Ask any of the teenagers hanging out at the Chalfont recreation facility in northeast Philadelphia, and they can tell you what the Mosquito sounds like.
“Nails on a chalkboard.”
“A dog whistle.”
“Like a screeching sound that echoes.”
Usually, only the young – ages 13 to 25 – are able to hear the high-frequency noise emitted by the Mosquito, a machine named after the sound it produces. And that’s exactly the point. The machine is meant to prevent youth vandalism and loitering at city recreation centres after hours.
The small white boxes have been installed at four recreation facilities in the northeast, and the city hopes to have the Mosquito and security cameras at every one of its 154 recreation centres by 2017. The Chalfont facility, on Deerpath Lane, was remodelled in 2012, and with that came four Mosquitos and security cameras. It was the first centre to use the machine.
“The area under the overhang we have here, used to be a nice, big drinking spot. With kids hanging around, the graffiti and all that would happen,” says Chalfont recreation leader Christine Reilly. “We have seen a dramatic difference” since the Mosquitos and security cameras were installed, she adds. There are no longer graffiti on the walls.
The contraption is also used at the Philadelphia area’s Boyle, Junod and Mayfair Recreation Facilities, says deputy recreation and programmes commissioner Susan Slawson. The machines are set on a timer, and come on daily from 10pm to 6am. At Boyle, the difference has been less noticeable.
“To begin with, crime has always been at a minimum, maybe a few isolated incidents,” says recreation leader George Geiss. “Most people who frequent here probably don’t even know they’re there.”
The initiative to put cameras and Mosquitos in all recreation facilities will cost the city about US$4.6mil (RM14.9mil), according to Councilwoman Cindy Bass. “We decided to install cameras and the extra protection of the Mosquito,” says Bass, chair of Council’s Committee on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. “People are really excited to see this level of investment.”
Michael Gibson, president of Moving Sound Technologies, the Vancouver-based company that sells the new technology, says the Mosquito has been installed in several US cities and in all the major cities in Canada. The frequency and decibel rate the machine emits is “far below” the rate that might damage human ears, he says.
Research has shown, the company website adds, that most people older than 25 have lost the ability to hear at this frequency range. It’s more annoying than anything, adolescents say. They can hear it even when they're passing through.
Daniel Spotts, 26, hears the high-pitched buzz when he drives by the park at night. He doesn’t think the Mosquito is worth it. “The cameras have made more of a difference,” he says.
Dan Milillo, 17, lives with his family across the street from the recreation centre. He doesn’t mind it too much. “I don’t hear it inside the house,” he says. “When I stand outside the house, it’s only a very faint noise.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services