Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search


‘City that never sleeps’ wants to address its noise pollution problem

‘City that never sleeps’ wants to address its noise pollution problem

UNITED STATES: Car horns, sirens, drilling, jet overflights and restaurants where diners have to yell to be heard – New York is one of the loudest cities in the world.

environmenthealthpollutionconstructiontransporttechnology
By AFP

Sunday 2 July 2017, 04:00PM


New York is one of the loudest cities in the world. Photo: Aron Ranen/AFP

New York is one of the loudest cities in the world. Photo: Aron Ranen/AFP

But America’s most populous metropolis, known as “The City That Never Sleeps”, has launched a unique experiment seeking to provide New York with the technology to turn down the volume and address noise pollution.

The five-year, $4.6 million (B156.3mn) project – the brainchild of researchers at New York University (NYU), working in concert with city residents and city hall – is using machine learning technology and sensors to build a sound library.

The idea is to record the full panoply of noises in the city of 8.5 million residents and use artificial intelligence so that machines can recognise sounds automatically, ultimately giving authorities a way to mitigate noise levels.

“It is like living in the middle of a soccer stadium sometimes,” says Gregory Orr, a film-maker from Los Angeles who has lived in New York for 19 years.

“Even the squirrels have to chirp louder in the city in order to be heard over the din,” he jokes.

Juan Bello, head of the “Sounds of NYC” project and associate professor of music technology at NYU, says noise is “consistently the number one civil complaint” to the city’s 311 telephone hotline for non-emergency services, instituted in 2003.

Researchers installed the first sensor boxes, which transmit data through Wi-Fi, on NYU buildings in Greenwich Village.

They’re now installing sensors across Manhattan and Brooklyn at spots selected for their diverse sounds. By the end of the year, there should be 100 in place.

“There are plenty of studies showing that noise has a tremendous impact on health, both short-term and long-term,” says Bello, citing heart conditions, hearing loss and hypertension, which then have a significant economic impact.

Educational performance is also shown to suffer among children subjected to high noise levels.

In Manhattan, Bello says the effects are amplified by skyscrapers, which form “canyons of sound” and make everything louder.

“A lot of the sounds that you get in New York would not be so loud in other places, because of the specifics of the topology of the city,” he said.

That was the concept from which the project was born, and it is being financed by the National Science Foundation.

The sensors are programmed to record no more than 10 consecutive seconds to avoid eavesdropping on conservations and posing confidentiality problems.

Researchers hope to index thousands of sounds which, with the help of New Yorkers, will be carefully annotated and help computers identify the source of nuisance sound immediately.

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET

It would then be over to the city to do what it can to limit it.

The problem is clear. But the solutions might still be some way off.

How, for example, do you deal with something as short-lived and unpredictable as honking?

“We have to get more creative,” says Bello.

Today, it can take authorities five or six days to deal with a noise complaint, and requires the intervention of one of 50 specialist inspectors, says Bello. After so long, the problem has often disappeared.

Those who call the police on noisy neighbours can be given short shrift by officers who have more pressing priorities.

Arline Bronzaft, environmental psychologist and professor emerita at City University of New York, has spent years speaking out about the harmful effects of noise and need for better controls.

Delighted that the project is taking place, she says noise levels affect how New Yorkers behave.

“Some of the reason people walk fast is to get away from the noise and New Yorkers talk loud because we are competing with sounds,” she said.

For a long time, officials minimised the consequences of noise pollution, accusing people of exaggerating – a bit like how the tobacco industry spent decades refusing to acknowledge the risks of smoking on your health.

But today she credits authorities with being “cognisant of the problem”.

The first results gathered by Bello’s team tend to confirm that the problem is under-reported, that there are more noise violations than the 311 log seems to suggest, at least for sounds linked to construction.

New York may not be the only loud city in the world, but Bello calls it “a perfect laboratory” to test solutions that can be adopted and transferred “to many other places in the US and around the world”.

“That’s ultimately the objective,” he says. “We will generate a core set of technologies that can be applied to this problem anywhere.”

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Pickup truck u-turn leaves Myanmar mother dead, partner and son in ICU

so there were 3 people on the motorbike (illegal) 2 people without helmets(illegal) they should also...(Read More)


Phuket gets a new mascot

Well, that's a worthwhile spend of B130k!...(Read More)


Phuket Immigration clarifies TM28, 24-hour reporting ‘exceptions’

Retirees and spouses to be harassed on a scale comparable to a sex offender. [sighs] So is there a ...(Read More)


Pickup truck u-turn leaves Myanmar mother dead, partner and son in ICU

Is well on time and build concrete dividers on all roads in Phuket....(Read More)


Phuket Immigration clarifies TM28, 24-hour reporting ‘exceptions’

Except on same webpage below the graphic in thai it says all foriegners are now not required to repo...(Read More)


Thai Navy seize IUU boat off Phuket

Nothing, illegal, unregulated with registered Uthaiwan. Vessel built in NL, 1977. Imo Nr: 7637527. ...(Read More)


Phuket Immigration clarifies TM28, 24-hour reporting ‘exceptions’

So this is the latest ambiguous statement of nonsensical BS to come out of Immigration in the past w...(Read More)


Mice tourism development in Phuket held back by regulations

A convention/exhibition Hall? How about first making Chalong hospital operational? As we experience...(Read More)


Mice tourism development in Phuket held back by regulations

Hahaha, that Patong tunnel thing is always popping up fun during such chats. Small Chalong underpass...(Read More)


Phuket Immigration clarifies TM28, 24-hour reporting ‘exceptions’

The new rule will make that owners of properties even feel more reluctant/not bother to report with ...(Read More)