Geo-technology and the Inauguration

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Business as usual resumed in Washington D.C. today, and those of us who attended yesterday’s inaugural events are reveling in our personal space once more.  The inauguration ceremony was definitely not for the claustrophobic or cryophobic (fear of cold weather) as crowds filled the 2.2 mile stretch of the National Mall leading west from the U.S. Capitol.  It’s impossible to know the exact number of people who attended yesterday’s affairs, but companies like GeoEye are using satellite imagery to make educated guesses.  This article highlights the art of crowd counting and quotes the final attendance estimate for the inauguration ceremony–anywhere from 800,000 to 3 million people! Check it out to learn about various crowd counting techniques and tell us which you think is most accurate.

While technology is being used to its fullest potential for crowd counting, it could have been used more effectively for crowd control in my opinion.  Jumbotron screens helped the masses to see President Obama deliver his inaugural speech, but they gave little (and inaccurate!) directions on the day’s logistics, including exit routes.  Other than the occasional banner directing ticket holders to their assigned areas or Metro users to the nearest train, there were a few logistical oversights that could have made the day go much smoother had they been included.

Fellow MWW blogger Sarah suggests increased amounts of signage indicating evacuation routes, memorable land-markers for meeting spots along with multiple “missing persons” stations for separated friends and families. A map of the Mall highlighting exit routes, refreshment stations, warming and medical aid tents certainly would have been nice!

My personal suggestion is to hand out GPS tracking units that can be programmed to locate members of your inaugural gang. But seeing as cellular service was shot from increased usership leading to total saturation of networks, I think I’m dreaming too big. Plus, it would have bumped up the inaugural price tag, already the most costly in history.

Did you attend the inauguration ceremonies?  What did you think of the planning?  What geographic solutions can you suggest to make it better?

Let us know!
Bethany for My Wonderful World

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