Procrastination Nation

Things that Robert is thinking about that keep him from accomplishing anything.

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Thursday, February 12, 2004
Hurry Up and Wait
Here's an article from USAToday about bringing broadband to D.C.'s emergency medical system. I guess now the people who die on the streets will be that much more outraged at how slow their service is.

On a related issue, I'm wondering about another idea. I've developed yet another pet peeve over the years: annoyingly loud sirens. It's driven by eating outdoors on patios on the last main street before a major hospital. I suppose the theory is that these sirens need to be so loud because they have catch the attention of drivers in cars some distance away, and people in those cars may already be distracted by phones or the radio or their own conversations and thoughts.

The problem, of course, is that the sirens are painfully loud to pedestrians, and they are a nuisance to people who live nearby, as I once did on Cold Spring Ln. in Baltimore with tons of police and ambulance sirens.

There has been lots of talk about applications for wireless technology, and I submit to you that a substitute for the siren is a natural use. Right now, things like EZ-Pass treat your car like a grocery item, with the wireless reader scanning your sticker as you pass an entry/exit point and deducting money from your account. And there's plenty of other wireless stuff like satellite radio, not to mention good ole regular radio.

However, there's nothing to say we couldn't outfit cars with a WiFi receiver and give EMS vehicles the capacity to transmit WiFi messages to cars. Then, instead of broadcasting an ear-splitting siren that annoys people in local proximity to the source and is only faintly heard at a distance, EMS could transmit a single uniform signal to all cars with the device in an unobtrusive way (e.g., flashing and sound like a seat belt warning indicator).

We wouldn't have to do away with sound completely on a siren (pedestrians would still need to hear it), but it doesn't take much in the way of decibels to alert a pedestrian.

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