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Mapping the Inauguration
Armed Forces Inaugural Committee Map

Today in Washington, D.C., at a meeting of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, a 40-by-40-foot map being used to plan out next month's presidential inauguration was revealed to the public.

One can't help but be utterly fascinated by the image of military personnel swarming around this map or looking on from above in the bleachers to play out scenarios of what will happen and what might happen in a sort of cartographic war game. They aren't scheming an invasion of some foreign shore but rather the invasion of the nation's capital by the populace.

Parade routes are highlighted, staging areas parceled out, and observation platforms and giant viewing screens placemarked. Critical to any large events, outflow zones are delineated, first aid stations positioned, and emergency evacuations modeled to determine the best way to control the incoming flood and counteract any disastrous perturbation. Equally important to these security measures, a mobile sewage infrastructure (i.e., porta-potties and pump trucks) to be grafted temporarily onto the grid is also being devised.

Armed Forces Inaugural Committee Map

But wouldn't it have been incredible to learn that they are using wall-to-wall (or floor-to-floor) touch screens instead? Or how about that gigantic LCD screen used during the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremonies? And that this “magic floor” is networked to tablet PCs and Blackberries and maybe even to iPhones? In the stands are federal and local officials working collaboratively and interactively at constructing strategies and counter-strategies, all the while seeing their work evolving right before them on the armory floor. While the majority may be participating in the process semi-remotely, others do so by literally standing on the screen: hands, feet and even whole bodies manipulating the digitized city in an orgy of multi-touch urban planning.

Or what about an airplane hangar retrofitted into the world's biggest CAVE™? During the inauguration, it would serve as the tactical command center.

Of course, all of this would be overkill; the analog map is sufficient enough. But what about when, at some future inauguration of an even more grotesquely popular president-elect, tens of millions of people are expected to descend upon the city on that one day?
  • Anonymous
  • December 19, 2008 at 1:03:00 PM CST
  • I am fascinated by the level of integration and coordination between different levels of government and among different agencies. Is it not possible to deploy similar strategies to solve some of our pressing environmental and social problems?

  • Alexander Trevi
  • December 19, 2008 at 1:07:00 PM CST
  • That's one of the most enduring mysteries of American life.

  • Anonymous
  • December 19, 2008 at 4:10:00 PM CST
  • It looks like it's taking place in some high school gym. Surely the mighty US gov't has purpose built facilities in which to coordinate inter-agency activiites? On second thought, probably not.

  • CjS
  • December 22, 2008 at 10:33:00 PM CST
  • It does look like it is in a gym...and with state of the art technology. Honestly, after the CNN 3D projection broadcast, I'm a little disappointed in this mapping process. Wait, Wait, maybe this is all a 3D projection. No never mind, we couldn't afford that with the Iraq War costing * $275 million per day
    * $4,100 per household.

  • Anonymous
  • January 14, 2009 at 6:03:00 PM CST
  • The picture was taken in the DC Armory, which was built for a military purpose. It is not a high school gym. People should attempt to get the facts straight before making ignorant comments based on their own limited experience and puerile political opinions.

  • Anonymous
  • January 15, 2009 at 3:38:00 AM CST
  • Regardless of whether this was taken in a gym or not, why waste electricity and large scale LCD screens for this simple exercise. Seriously flashy technology is nothing but a fad that wastes more electricity and less sense.

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