Help + FAQ

System requirements for web participation

Windows XP or Mac OSX or higher. The computer must have the latest Flash enabled and Google Earth plug-in. Computer microphone and speakers are required to record and listen to messages.

System requirements for mobile app participation

iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 5.0 or higher. Please note that iPods and iPads without built-in GPS will not allow the lights to track you over the parkway.

How can I participate?

You can download the free “Open Air Philly” app from the iTunes store after Sept 19 and use that to send a live message while you are on the parkway. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can borrow one for free at the Project Information Center at Eakins Oval (24th Street and the Parkway. You can also send a recorded message from the web right here.

How long can a message be?

Any length, with a maximum of 30 seconds.

What should I say?

Anything you want: dedications, shout-outs, poems, rants, songs. This project is meant to be a new public space for Philadelphians to express themselves. Your message will be listened to and rated by the general public, so you may want to ensure the content is inspiring, interesting, poetic, critical, funny or informative.

What happens when a message plays back?

The 24 powerful lights create a modulating arrangement in the sky that responds to your voice’s frequency and amplitude, and the location of your smartphone if you are on the parkway. The way the lights react is in sync to the voice message, which can be heard through public speakers and the project app and website.

What is the difference between an onsite and and online message?

An onsite message is sent using the “Open Air Philly” app and it is given maximum priority in the queue as the participant can see the resulting design over the parkway live. During the playback of an onsite message, all the lights will automatically point to face the participant’s location to give him or her a priviledged viewpoint. An online message, on the other hand, is submitted from this website and plays back only when there are no onsite messages in the queue and it has been rated highly. During the playback of an online message the lights are arranged in one of six set formations that can be seen from most vantage points.

When can I send a message?

The piece will accept recorded messages at any time over this website. Live messages using the “Open Air Philly” app can be sent from the parkway while the project is operational, each night 8-11PM from Sept 20 to Oct 14, 2012.

Does it cost to send or listen to messages?

No, this is free. However, you will need to pay for data in your smartphone. To avoid any charges you may join the free wifi network “Open Air” in the parkway.

When will my voice message go live?

There will be a first-come first-serve queue, with a priority given to messages sent from the parkway and the web messages that have been rated highly. The system will notify you when your design has been queued for playback.

How can I listen to people’s messages?

You can tune in using the “Open Air Philly” app or in the listen area of this website. If you are on the parkway during the show you can listen to speakers placed at the Project Information Center at Eakins Oval (24th Street and the Parkway) and at the Information Outpost located at Sister Cities Park (18th Street and Logan Square).

Will the content of the piece be censored?

While live messages will not be censored or moderated in any way, abusive content should not be widespread since the author’s location and identity is known by their smartphone. Recorded messages on the other hand are sent over the internet and so a system will be in place for the public to flag inappropriate content.

Are the comments in the message pages private?

No, all comments sent through this system are public and may be read by any visitor. In addition, messages are stored in a permanent public archive so please do not send confidential or private information.

Why do you ask for my email address? Will I get spam?

The email addresses are needed in order to notify senders when a design has appeared in the sky. The email addresses are NEVER revealed to anyone.

How can I make sure I never get an email from this project?

If you receive an email from this project it is because you or someone else entered it while they were sending a design. Please write to if you do not want to receive messages from anybody and we will ensure that no email is ever sent to you.

How visible will the piece be? Will the rain stop the show?

The visibility depends on the weather, on a clear night the piece will be seen from a 10-mile radius. On an overcast, rainy night the lights will look particularly bright but they won’t be seen from very far.

What is the energy consumption and what kind of energy is used?

The project uses 240kW of power. For comparison, the entire 4 weeks duration of the project can be powered by one football game. Most of the fuel used is renewable biodiesel.

Does this project generate light pollution? Will it disturb the neighbours or wildlife?

Please read the environment section of this website.

Is there sound pollution?

The project is completely silent, there is no sound or music.

Will the parkway be respected? Will traffic be affected?

The design specification calls for the least amount of physical presence possible, using small scaffolds that do not obstruct the magnificent view. All set-up and strike of the installation will be supervised and approved by the authorities. Only on Sept 20, opening night, will the traffic will be closed in the parkway.

Will there be big crowds to see the piece?

This is unlikely because the piece is not a show like a fireworks display which requires people to congregate at a certain time, it is just an ongoing display of light designs; also, there is a very large area to view the piece.

What are the best vantage points to view the piece live?

Any place in the Parkway, any elevated place with a line of sight to the Parkway.

What will happen after October 14, when the piece is finished?

The site will remain operative and people will still be able to send recordings and listen to the archive. However, the searchlights will not be operating and thus the system will just show the simulated 3D view.


My message is not being played-back by the lights

Due to time constraints the system can only show messages sent from the web if these have been rated highly by other web visitors. Promote your message among your friends to increase your chances of having your message played in the parkway. If you are in Philadelphia, consider sending your messages using the mobile app, as this gets priority.

The archive page does not show images

Each archive page will have a Google Earth 3D view showing the light design. The system takes a bit of time to generate this and you will be notified when it is done. Messages that have been played-back by the lights will also have webcam pictures documenting your design.

The programs do not load

Make sure that the Google Earth Plug-in (for archive pages) and Flash (for recording messages) are installed in your browser and enabled in the preferences.

The 3D view is slow!

Things that affect the performance of your computer include: the processor speed, the connection speed (especially as the programs load textures), the video card and the operating system used. This page has the minimum and ideal configurations needed

The program loads partially and then freezes

Sometimes the programs fail to load completely into memory. First try to reload the program by clicking on the “refresh” button of your browser. If that doesn’t work try emptying the cache (the temporary memory that the browser uses to store frequently accessed documents). To do this visit the “preferences” or “options” settings in your browser and “delete or empty the cache”, which is also called “delete temporary Internet files”. Once you have done this quit the browser and open it up again…fresh copies of the programs should reload and work perfectly.

I can’t upload a sound file

Make sure that it is a .wav, .aac, .m4a or a .mp3 file. If it is a different format use a sound conversion tool before uploading. Also, if the file is very large it may take a while to transfer depending on your connection speed.

What operating systems and browsers are supported?

We have tested the programs in Windows XP, Vista and 7 and in MacOSX Leopard and Snow Leopard. Supported browsers are Google Chrome 1.0+, Internet Explorer 6+, Firefox 3.0+, Flock 1.0+ and Safari 3.1+.