By Jason Smith
In case you missed it, we ran a story earlier this week about the noise emitting devices known as "Mosquitos" that emit a noise at a frequency designed to cause the hearer physical pain. The noise can generally only be heard by people under 25, including babies and children. These devices are used to keep young people and children away from certain areas by making it too physically painful to stay in the area.
We had contacted the City of Greater Geraldton about the devices. One of the questions we asked was:
"What times are they activated?"
The City's response was:
"The times are set outside of core hours of use and are not disclosed obviously for security reasons."
Following the public outcry after many people in Geraldton discovered that these devices were in use, and were not informed what times they were operating, or which businesses have them installed, the City of Greater Geraldton contacted Everything Geraldton again with more information.
The City would like to make these points clear regarding your ‘story’ on Everything Geraldton titled: ‘City of Greater Geraldton using high frequency noise emitters on children’.
- The times of activation of City mosquito units are not a secret and are between 10pm and 4am.
- It is envisaged that at these times no families will be bringing their children to use the park and of course the installation of the device was to deter the continuing vandalism that was occurring to community facilities.
- The City would not and has not activated these devices outside of the hours mentioned in the first dot point.
- The City has no device at all in the mall – it appears the units by CCTV referred to by the informant are in fact City Wifi.
- It appears that the complaints on mosquito units in the vicinity of the mall may be due to privately owned devices.
- The City is looking into the use of these by private business in public spaces.
- The City is reviewing all information at hand regarding the use of the devices.
Another question we had asked originally was
"What do the devices look like? Do you have an image?"
Their exact response was:
"Will need to follow this up for you but wouldn’t be able to disclose the location…"
So to be clear, the only information the City of Greater Geraldton was originally willing to release was that the devices were "at the foreshore and aquarena" and activated outside "core" hours.
Following this further information from the CGG, Geraldton residents and visitors that wish to avoid being near such devices only need to avoid the foreshore after 10pm.
We have not been given information by the City of Greater Geraldton as to the specific location or number of devices that are installed along the foreshore.
As it appears devices that are being activated elsewhere are being done so by businesses and not the City of Greater Geraldton, we have no available information nor way of obtaining that information easily regarding the activation of the devices, and cannot inform people of what hours to avoid the CBD if they don't want to be near the mosquitos. With the City of Greater Geraldton now investigating the use of the devices in public spaces by private businesses and organisations, it is hoped more information may come to light in the future.
As there is no legislation, regulations, or even a registry of people or businesses that have installed the mosquito device, businesses could install the device and have it hidden from view, and no-one would be able to know it was there. Children of course can hear the devices, but pinpointing the exact location can be difficult as one of the symptoms of the noise is dizziness.
We also contacted a local business owner who uses the Mosquito to see what statements they wanted to make on the record about their implementation and use of the devices. The only comment we were able to get on the record was "no comment".
Our original Facebook post of the article we published attracted many comments from parents who were upset that they're children had been exposed to these devices without their consent or knowledge.
One parent, Kara Power said:
I am appalled at this! I was recently down town and my 3yo son was telling me he didn't like the noise. I had no idea what he was talking about at the time and dismissed it but now I suspect it may have been one of these things, which makes me angry!
How do they possibly justify the use of these things?! These are children and young people, it's just like using the high pitched collars on a dog.
There's surely enough CCTV and what not around the centre of town area to eliminate the need for these infernal devices.
Other residents questioned whether or not the device constituted assault. If a shop keeper or Council staff member physically hurt a young person in order to get them to leave the foreshore, there would be public outrage. Yet this discrete mechanical device is designed to do the same thing.
More comments were made by concerned residents and visitors to Geraldton. The original Facebook post is embedded below.
The City of Greater Geraldton certainly has an unenviable task in trying to reduce vandalism at the foreshore so it is safe and pleasant for all to enjoy, and the promise of 'no teenagers will go near this thing' by the manufactures of the Mosquito device is obviously appealing. Other security measures undertaken by the City of Greater Geraldton have been rather successful.
The CCTV installed by the Council has received much praise from the public and Police. It even assisted in a very quick arrest recently after a Marine Terrace shop was held up.
The foreshore has become one of Geraldton's favourite assets. What was an embarrassing eyesore a few years ago has become a treasured bragging point, as evidenced by the response of some of the public when the discussion about Dome being built was happening. And it would seem in the public interest to do whatever is reasonable to reduce vandalism to the area.
Taking into account the effect the Mosquito device has on children and the physical pain it can cause teenagers and young adults who might be at the foreshore, a public open space, after 10pm, it would appear warranted to have a robust public discussion about the use of such a contraption.