Photo credit: Andrew Neel

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

NoiseModelling, which was begun as a research tool, has enabled researchers to develop environmental noise maps of urban areas. But as a free tool, it can be used by nonprofessionals to produce noise maps of their communities. This tool will take its place among other tools that have been developed recently that allow residents to better assess the noises that are intruding on their lives and, as a result, adversely affecting their health and well-being.

We now talk about “citizen science” as we describe the techniques that allow individuals to assess the noises around them on their own. Soundprint, founded by Gregory Scott, is an app that allows people to measure the sounds of the restaurant in which they are dining. Individuals can report the sound levels to Soundprint, which reports on which restaurants provide quieter environments that so many people desire.

Tae Hong Park of Get Noisy has developed sensors that can be placed on windows of people living near airports. These sensors register the time a plane flies over and the sound level of that plane. The data provided by these sensors will provide a more accurate picture of the impact of aircraft noise on residents in contrast to the instruments being used today by the FAA to assess community aircraft noise.

Question: Are our public officials aware of the new technologies that enable citizens to measure the noises around them? Would these public officials provide funding for studies that employ the citizen science methods to measure community noises? Such studies may provide the types of data that could more readily bring about abatements to lessen noise pollution. I would also suggest that community members be involved in the research projects.