Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sound protection standards for secret spaces may be insufficient

Date:
December 4, 2013
Source:
Acoustical Society of America (ASA)
Summary:
What’s the best place to conduct a conversation about a confidential or even classified matter? Surprisingly, probably not a conference room designed in accordance with acoustical criteria approved by the Department of Defense. While such “secret” rooms might meet DOD standards, they offer less protection against snooping than is found in a luxury condo, says one researcher who evaluated the acoustic performance of several classified spaces.

What's the best place to conduct a conversation about a confidential or even classified matter? Surprisingly, probably not a conference room designed in accordance with acoustical criteria approved by the Department of Defense (DOD).

While such "secret" rooms -- intended to keep sensitive information out of the earshot of unauthorized listeners -- might meet DOD standards, they offer less protection against snooping than is found in a luxury condo. So says Marlund Hale of Advanced Engineering Acoustics in Simi Valley, California, who evaluated the acoustic performance of a several classified spaces.

Hale will present his results in a talk at the Fall 2013 meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, to be held December 2-6 in San Francisco, California.

In field studies, Hale examined a newly renovated "Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities" (SCIF) conference room at a U.S. military installation and several classified spaces at a National Guard base. Although the facilities adhered to DOD acoustical design criteria and had passed acoustical standard field tests, they "failed to provide the desired secret-level acoustical performance," he noted.

In particular, while the individual components of the secret spaces -- such as floors, walls, doors, windows, air ducts -- were up to snuff in laboratory testing, they didn't make the grade when pieced together to make a room. A common problem is that some contractors fail to adhere to specific design details during the room's construction. "Also," he noted, "acoustical door and frame systems frequently fail due to poorly functioning seals."

One remedy to the poor performance, Hale said, is a significant improvement in the design of acoustical door seals. In addition, he said, acoustical entry vestibules -- the auditory equivalents of airlocks -- "need to be mandatory."

However, Hale noted, even these strategies may be insufficient to protect against eavesdropping -- because the DOD design criteria are simply not stringent enough. For example, DOD standards state that the partitions separating so-called "Group 4" classified areas from non-classified areas have a sound transmission class (STC) rating of 50. In California, 50 STC is the minimum rating for multi-family dwellings like apartments, condos, and townhomes, even those that are the least expensive. "In such residences, neighbors can hear adjacent neighbors," he said. In contrast, upscale and luxury multi-family dwellings typically can range from 55 to 65 STC -- far better than DOD requires for secret facilities.

"The minimum acceptable performance standards for secret military facilities should be adequate to prevent secret information from being understood in adjacent non-classified spaces," Hale said. "It is interesting that DOD design standards only require sufficient acoustical isolation to prevent a casual passerby from understanding classified information, but do not need to be adequate to prevent a deliberate effort by someone to understand that information."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "Sound protection standards for secret spaces may be insufficient." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204130908.htm>.
Acoustical Society of America (ASA). (2013, December 4). Sound protection standards for secret spaces may be insufficient. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204130908.htm
Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "Sound protection standards for secret spaces may be insufficient." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204130908.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Newsy (July 26, 2014) A bill legalizing "unlocking," or untethering a phone from its default wireless carrier, has passed Congress and is expected to be signed into law. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wikipedia Puts Congress in Time Out, Blocks Editing

Wikipedia Puts Congress in Time Out, Blocks Editing

Newsy (July 26, 2014) An IP address within the House of Representatives was banned from editing Wikipedia articles for 10 days after it made some questionable changes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins