Advisory Circular LA
December 23, 2019 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Advisory Circular LA
Advisory Circular LA is a twitter bot that tweets, in real time, when it detects aircraft flying in circles over the Los Angeles metro area. Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft flown by news stations, police departments, and fire departments are an ambient part of LA airspace, and one of their most stereotypical behaviors is flying in circles over something interesting. Every circle tells a story, and this bot begins to surface those stories.

This is one step in my exploration of ideas like the following:
  • What if every aircraft had a social media account?
  • How about a bot that tweeted every time any aircraft in the world flew in a circle?
  • What if the surveillance technologies that governments aim at citizens were used by citizens and aimed at governments?
A few example posts: The bot's code is available on gitlab.

The primary data source used is the ADS-B Exchange API. ADS-B Exchange is the only uncensored amateur planetracking multilateration network that exists. Geo data to determine aircraft location and nearby landmarks comes from the Pelias Geocoder, which itself uses data from OpenStreetMap and Who's On First.

Future work could involve running instances of the bot for other geographic areas (Washington D.C., Area 51, etc.) or for patterns of behavior other than circling (extremely high velocity, high climb rate, high descent rate, high altitude, etc.)

(The bot's name came from a suggestion by Star Simpson.)
Role: programmer
posted by jjwiseman (1 comment total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Living in the area that I do (south central Los Angeles,) this is a great companion to the Citizen app. Now I can see info for the aircraft that might be circling nearby!
posted by starscream at 2:34 PM on December 26 [1 favorite]


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