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Every Breath You Take…I’ll be Watching You

By Brian | August 3, 2005 | Share on Facebook

The DHS, DOD, DOE, EPA and NOAA are conducting an “Urban Dispersion Program,” that studies how air flows in a city envrionment.

The second of three field studies start this weekend, and will involve equipment in the form of large briefcases or file boxes, and wind monitoring devices that look like TV antennas scattered throughout midtown. The devices will be labeled as test equipment, and they’ll also be using unmarked vans as mobile measurement labs.

This is a great example of the stuff you do when you’re in charge of the problem, rather than simply commenting on those who are in charge. I’m sure there are a small number of people complaining about privacy invasion now, and a larger number will surface with charges of “promoting a culture of fear” in 2007, when the study is done and they make recommendations about how to improve the safety of the air we breathe.

Topics: New York, New York, Political Rantings | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Every Breath You Take…I’ll be Watching You”

  1. Michael Weinmayr says at August 3rd, 2005 at 2:03 pm :
    First off, I don’t see how your last sentence is connected to anything written above it.

    As to the topic at hand, I don’t know how useful this project will be. Air quality modeling is fiendishly difficult in the best of circumstances (I’ve taken classes in this from industry experts); trying to do it on a block-by-block basis in an urban area is probably impossible. Sure, they might be able to use the results in the case where the wind direction and air stability are identical to the test case, and the release agent is in the same location with the same aerodynamic properties. However, I don’t believe that they will be able to create a model that can be applied to other scenarios.

  2. Brian says at August 3rd, 2005 at 10:21 pm :
    Well, my last sentence is about the way people tend to overreact whenever the Department of Homeland Security does anything that affects their lives. I found out about this via an e-mail at work that was attempting to relieve any concerns we might have about the strange looking test equipment we might see in front of our building. Who knows – maybe I’m over reacting. Time will tell.

    As to the rest of it, Michael know gobs more about this than I do, obviously. Best I can say is what the website says – they’re going to install some additional (permanent) meteorological equipment, they’re hoping to verify their existing computer models, and hoping to be able to respond better in an emergency. I guess if someone’s releasing something into the air, it’s good to know which way the wind’s blowing. Me? I’ll probably stay indoors & call Michael…

  3. Jeff Porten says at August 5th, 2005 at 1:07 am :
    Canary says: nothing to see here, move along. I’ve got no problems with this; there’s nothing privacy-related in testing the air quality.

    As for bio/chem/radiological attacks, it’s really all bad news in terms of what you can do about it. Small attacks will disperse quickly, so you have to be having a really unlucky day to be affected. Large attacks will move faster than first-response teams will be able to mobilize. I have it on anonymous authority that the current game plan is to quarantine the area to minimize casualties; if you’re on the inside, you’re basically screwed. If you’re running for your life and you see the key ahead of you drop in his tracks, stop running.

    And many of these attacks are undetectable. If you smell something caustic and you’re not dead yet, it’s probably just a burning tire.

    The good news is that I heard one expert say that the only way he could model a death from a dirty bomb is from the conventional explosives used to disperse it. So all the fear-mongering you read about Jose Padilla is a load of hooey.


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