Marc is a creative technologist and anthropologist living in Brooklyn. He co-founded Enigma, a data and technology company built on top of the world's broadest collection of public data, and is a fellow at the Brown Institute at Columbia Journalism School. Occasionally, he can be found on various ham radio frequencies under the callsign KD2MMB.
The airwaves can be a cacophonous place. Signals from GPS satellites exist alongside bluetooth headsets and the dispatch channels of police stations. The emergence of low-cost Software Defined Radios (SDRs) have made this world more accessible than ever. In this talk we will discuss how to join radio waves with the contextual, public information that helps make sense of them. Not only is it possible to use "Automatic Identification System" broadcasts from container ships to understand exactly what’s inside them, but ADS-B transmissions from aircraft overhead can be cross-referenced with the FAA to understand who owns them and where they’re going. By the end of this talk you will be able to identify the particular broadcast frequency of any McDonald’s drive-through in the country and will learn how to locate suspicious cell phone base stations.