The PSST rape prevention system is based on each young lady having a small (bicycle-handgrip-sized), inexpensive ($5 per month rental), low power, hand-held transmitter. When in potentially dangerous surroundings, she would keep it in her hand. If attacked or if under imminent attack, she would depress two momentary pushbuttons that would turn on the transmitter. A brief pulse train is radiated out. PSST receivers around the community always listen for such signals.
A computer at the central office will take the time intervals and quickly does some processing to calculate exactly where she is, generally, it will be accurate within 1 foot!
Concurrently, the computer also identifies the exact transmitter that sent the signal, and looks up and presents the personal data on the registered holder of that unit. It immediately displays the name and physical description of person on the PSST (or Police) monitor.
The officers would have an excellent chance of apprehending the attacker, by getting to the scene so quickly. The attack would not have had a chance to progress very far in three minutes, so the young lady would be spared the horror of experiencing a rape and the paranoid life many victims spend afterward. But there is an even larger and better benefit from this device and system. Within a month of it being instituted on a broad scale in a community, and a few rapists being caught, the resulting publicity would likely affect the thoughts and activities of a potential rapist. He would hopefully think "I won't have enough time to accomplish what I want, and even then I am likely to get caught. I won't try it in this town." The number of ATTEMPTED rapes would drop off to near zero.
This feature is considered to both reduce the number of spurious or repetitive triggerings of the PSST devices and also to ensure that the police personnel respond promptly to PSST alerts.
A clear channel frequency is crucial to the effectiveness of this system. Any interference could cause a signal not to be picked up, and a young lady could wind up with a problem. We believe that this clear channel can be on any frequency from about 150 Mhz up to about 2 Ghz. The fact that PSST will keep getting updated pulses once each second should minimize signal loss problems. If PSST receives even a single signal (which is only around one-millionth of a second long), PSST will know where she is.
In some ways this system is a VERY sophisticated version of the CB Channel 9, where the channel is supposed to stay clear except for emergencies. In that critical microsecond, PSST must be able to receive all the data PSST needs to dispatch a police car. In the event of some momentary interference source (such as lightning) or even the actuation of another of the PSST transmitters, THAT location determination cannot occur. However, the whole system will again determine her location about one second later, and EVERY second during which she has it actuated. If she is running or in a car, PSST will be able to monitor the movements including calculating speed and direction of motion, almost in real time.
This system was first invented during 1980 in response to a surprisingly honest presentation of the scale of the rape problem by the University of Florida in Gainesville. The University deserves great praise for being so open on the subject. Nearly all other Colleges and Universities had the same problem but worked hard to hide it from publicity. The University of Florida should be applauded for having that attitude of openness.
We intended to show a working demonstration for the Gainesville Police, the U of Florida Police, the FCC and other interested parties in middle 1980. Shortly thereafter, it was expected to initiate full scale operation to start giving some peace of mind to these young Americans.
Unfortunately, various problems conspired to delay the implementation of this system. Its value is still just as great, and its urgency still as strong.
Several years later, a serial killer stalked Gainesville for a number of months until he was eventually stopped. During that period, a HUGE number of companies descended upon the Gainesville community, trying to make a profit on the fear hanging over it then. I once passed a young girl on campus who looked like she had a full military pack on her back that included very sophisticated electronics and transmitters, which was unbelievably expensive. Such a contraption is well beyond the finances of most college students, and few students would be willing to wear such a huge device even if it represented their personal safety. It is hard to imagine that it did her social life much good.
This whole system is intended primarily as a public service, even though we believe it makes sense to operate it as a for-profit company.
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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago