Miami City Commissioners have approved the construction of two digital billboards reaching almost 500 feet tall, next to the Arscht Center in downtown Miami. The developer of the project claims that he will be able to sell tens of millions of dollars in advertising annually.

My initial thought is “not anytime soon.” After all, we have LED screens that probably cost in the area of $2 million each. And as I recall, they’re pretty darn close to the flight path into MIA. And then there is the issue of lightning strikes. Florida is the lightning capital, and I don’t know how LED screens hold up to a few hundred million volts of electricity. Of course, a direct hit by even a category 1 hurricane will probably turn those LED signs into confetti… that’s not to mention the damage a Cat 2 or Cat 3 could deliver. And finally, we have Miami’s general level of chaos to consider. How long before someone takes a .22 and shoots out your sign?

Finally, you’ve got the neighbors to contend with. d = sqrt{1.50h} is the formula for approximating the distance you can see an object, based on it’s height. At 500 feet, these towers are visible up to 27 miles out to sea… If they get built, I can’t see them making it through the first year unscathed.

An object 500 feet tall is visible approx 27 miles out to sea

An object 500 feet tall is visible approx 27 miles out to sea