The city is using an irritating sound that only young people can hear to keep them away from the Chalfont Playground in Millbrook when it is closed for the day.
The idea behind the test project is to dissuade youth from loitering inside or vandalizing the Deerpath Lane playground, which only this year got an expensive makeover, according to Susan Slawson, the city’s recreation commissioner.
“Younger people have more sensitive hearing than adults,” Slawson said. “The equipment broadcasts a frequency that is outside of the normal hearing range of adults but can still be heard by those under twenty-one years of age.”
Each night, about 10 o’clock, a high-frequency noise, like a mosquito buzzing, is emitted from speakers mounted on the roof of the playground’s building. Only kids roughly between the ages of 13 and 21 can hear the sound, because as people age, their ability to hear high-frequency noises diminishes, Slawson said.
Anyone older than 25 probably won’t hear the sounds put out by the Mosquito, a device invented six years ago in Wales and now marketed in the United States.
The anti-loitering device “emits a harmless, highly annoying sound,” according to Moving Sound Technologies, whose technology the city bought at a cost of $4,300.
At Chalfont Playground, the Mosquito’s buzz is doing the job, Slawson said Friday in an interview.
When the playground reopened in March after several months of remodeling, nine surveillance cameras were installed. The Mosquito was set up in the spring, too, and security tapes told the story of its success after hours. The playground closes at 10 p.m. each day.
“Our experience on the effectiveness is that the surveillance cameras at the site have recorded a reduced presence of teenagers after normal operating hours, when the system is operating,” Slawson said in an e-mail to the Northeast Times.
The Mosquito’s sonic nettle reaches from about 40 to 60 yards, according to the manufacturer’s specs that Slawson supplied to the newspaper. It is turned on at the playground from about 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. via an automatic timer, and its tones can be adjusted so people who are older than teens, or everyone, can hear the sound.
The Chalfont Playground is the first — and only — one in the city to get the Mosquito, Slawson said.
If the city is satisfied with the results, will the Mosquito buzz in other facilities?
That’s not yet decided, Slawson said.
“We haven’t discussed putting it anywhere else,” she said. ••EndFragment