I got to thinking about radar detectors the other day. I’ve owned a couple, but as a rule, they sucked. I remember once that I was on my way across town, and it went off 14 times in the five minute trip. The next day, on the interstate, I drove right past a speedtrap and it stayed silent. Nice.
Anyway, not my point —
Radar detectors essentially help you break the law. We all use them, and we have wonderful euphemisms for them, but they exist for one purpose: to help you get away with speeding.
Radar detectors also sound alarms based on faulty detection. Grocery store alarms were a big one for me. They can really be set off by about anything. In high school, I knew that the burglar alarm at the Hy-Vee at 33rd and Minnesota would always set mine off. So I learned to disregard the alarm at this intersection.
Now, a smart cop would cruise around town and note all the places where the detector consistently went off, and he would set up his speed traps in those locations. Since I learned to disregard the alarm at that intersection, I would have been awfully surprised by a cop lying in wait there.
The smart city would take this a step further: why not blanket the city in false positives? Set up signal emitters all over town to essentially render radar detectors useless — they would go off constantly until their users shut them off in frustration. Cops would have free reign to set up speed traps because drivers would either (1) be driving very slowly (obeying the law) because their detectors would always be going off, or (2) have shut them off and would be driving normally (which usually means, in excess of the speed limit).
Why hasn’t any city done this? And if they did, would the drivers have any legal recourse? Could you sue the city for rendering your investment useless? Or would that require you to admit that you were using it to help you break the law in the first place?