New Yorkers can expect to be hearing a new kind of siren coming from New York’s Finest and their patrol cars. Invented by Joe Bader, a vice president of Federal Signal Corporation, a security firm, the Rumbler is a siren that can better penetrate hard surfaces such as car doors and windows and into people’s consciousness even if they have ear buds in their ears or are talking on the phone.
The strange new siren, a low frequency sound with strange vibrations, achieves its effect utilizing sounds in the 180 to 360 hertz range (on the piano it would be between the 33rd and 46th keys.) When sounds of these frequencies are partnered with a standard siren, the effect gets anyone with earshot’s attention.
The NYPD had been test-running the device since 2007 and is making plans to add the crowd dispersing siren to 5,000 of its 8,000 vehicles. The siren sound is actually not louder than the standard kind. As a matter of fact, it is quieter by about 10 decibels or about half the volume. This makes it great news for pedestrians who will experience the siren as a quieter sound, while the police officers in the patrol car will experience it as quite an irritating sound. In order to preserve the comfort of the police the siren turns off automatically after 8 seconds.