Is France's capital city lying to its citizens about a new audio surveillance project?

Anyone who’s visited France or who keeps track of the nation's doings through the news, knows that it’s a nation that’ll put up with a lot of bullshit -- being overrun by tourists, loud talkers, or smiling at strangers -- provided said bullshit doesn’t infringe on the quality of its citizens' lives. The Paris government is arguing that excessively loud vehicles falls on the infringement list. At first blush, it looks like they're trying to do something about it.

From Engadget:

Parisians with powerful cars might want to think carefully before showing off their rides. Parts of the city (most recently the suburb of Villeneuve-le-Roi) are testing a "noise radar" system from Bruitparif that can pinpoint loud vehicles and, eventually, ticket them. The system uses four microphones to triangulate the origins of a sound and link it with CCTV footage to pinpoint whoever's making the racket.

Just shy of 40 of the devices are in use so far, primarily near bars in Paris' entertainment regions as well as 17 around major buildings.

It sounds like a great idea, but I suspect that there might be something greasy going on here. The technology being put into use sounds suspiciously similar to the gunshot locator systems manufactured by ShotSpotter and a few other tech firms. ShotSpotter’s website provides a basic lesson on how the technology works:

Acoustic sensors are strategically placed in a coverage area. When a gun is fired, the sensors detect shots fired. Audio triangulation pinpoints gunfire location and machine-learning algorithms analyze the sound. Likely gunshots are transmitted to the Incident Review Center.

That they’re plopping sensors for the study out front of bars and in front of significant buildings seems, to me, like a weird choice for testing the technology: they’re locations where there’s always going to be a lot of noise. If they were serious about wanting to make an impact on the noise levels presented by loud vehicles, placing the sensors in high traffic residential areas would make a hell of a lot more sense. If, on the other hand, one wanted to be able to get a better grasp on firearms-related crime in a popular entertainment district or to increase police response time to an attack at a government building or landmark, well, you’d place the sensors where the Parisians government has placed them.

I hate loud cars almost as much as I dislike being shot at. But I loathe being lied to by municipal and federal governments even more. It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Image via Wikipedia Commons