Mosquito - move on

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Rosie H

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Dec 5, 2008, 7:16:57 AM12/5/08
to Design and Behaviour
A strange and unnerving electrical insect has been appearing on the
walls of UK buildings aiming a high-pitched buzz at anyone who dares
to pause. The mosquito as it has been named has been employed by
councils to prevent people from lingering or loitering in intimidating
groups. The aim is to stop young people or 'youths' hanging around and
making people feel unsafe on the streets, by targeting one type of
nuisance with another. Someone even suggested that this could also
prevent homeless people from sleeping in places where they are
unwanted.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7240930.stm

Is this the only method available to cash-strapped local authorities,
to prevent undesirable behaviour in homeless and young people? Is
this an innovation we can be proud of in our techno-cities, or could
we use our design skills and knowledge to influence these sorts of
behaviours with a less agressive and longer-term approach?

Thoughts?

Rosie

Adrian Short

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Dec 5, 2008, 7:41:40 AM12/5/08
to design-and...@googlegroups.com
The Mosquito is/was opposed by a campaign by the Children's
Commissioner for England and Liberty, called Buzz Off!

http://www.11million.org.uk/youth/buzz_off_campaign/

Similar devices are employed by the Co-op (a grocery retailer, for all
non-UKers) and at Tube (subway) stations. Instead of emitting a
high-pitched noise, these use loud classical music to deter unwanted
groups from gathering in certain places (eg. outside stores).

There are a lot of problems in principle and in practice with these
devices, but the core problem for me is that they tend to be directed
at users rather than uses (ie. people by identity, not behaviour) and
are entirely arbitrary. The street outside a shop is public space and
the shop owners have no more right than anyone else to dictate who
goes there.

In as much as these things work (which is highly disputed), they are
never going to encourage a meaningful debate about norms of behaviour
among users of a space. This approach is not so much negotiation as
warfare.

In the UK, the context is often a great deal of prejudice against
young people, particularly when gathered in groups, and no general
legal right to occupy public space statically.

Many of the "problems" that these devices purport to solve are either
imagined or exaggerated. If designers have a contribution to make,
they must first clearly define the problem and decide whether its
amelioration is within their remit. I suspect that mostly it's an
issue for public policy, community relations and policing.

--
Adrian Short
http://adrianshort.co.uk/



2008/12/5 Rosie H <k063...@kingston.ac.uk>:

Ryan

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Dec 10, 2008, 12:41:36 AM12/10/08
to Design and Behaviour
Thanks. This reminds me of a story a few months back about a town in
England that planned to rip out a staircase that kids had been sitting
on and replace it with shorter, and hence less comfortable steps.
Might have been on Dan's blog actually.

Adrian Short

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Dec 11, 2008, 9:47:20 AM12/11/08
to design-and...@googlegroups.com
2008/12/10 Ryan <mrcal...@gmail.com>:

>
> Thanks. This reminds me of a story a few months back about a town in
> England that planned to rip out a staircase that kids had been sitting
> on and replace it with shorter, and hence less comfortable steps.
> Might have been on Dan's blog actually.

These are the infamous "Rosehill steps" in my neighbourhood. The
council went ahead with the scheme and spent £15,000 to modify a set
of steps to make them uncomfortable as seating, so as to deter alleged
anti-social behaviour (read: sitting and talking) by young people.

http://boingboing.net/2008/05/30/antikid-modification.html

Half a mile away, the same council is proposing to spend at least £4
million on a facility that will include a high-tech virtual street
environment, a "street simulator" if you like, to teach safety and
good behaviour to some of the same young people.

"An innovative 'walk-in virtual world' is one feature of the proposed
Sutton Life Centre, a multi-million pound facility that aims to raise
young people's awareness of personal safety and citizenship, and bring
quality community facilities under one roof.

Part movie-set, part theme park, the learning complex will be the
first of its kind in the UK and will also house an indoor street with
shop fronts, pavements and a road. The idea is to give young people
the confidence to make the best of their lives and have a positive
impact on their peers and their local community."

http://www.sutton.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3669

Ryan

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Dec 12, 2008, 3:19:11 PM12/12/08
to Design and Behaviour
Thanks!

On Dec 11, 6:47 am, "Adrian Short" <adrian.sh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 2008/12/10 Ryan <mrcalos...@gmail.com>:
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