Without getting too much into the physics behind sound, people often refer to sound as basically anything we hear. On the other-hand, noise is the sound that we don’t want to hear. Think about a city – the sounds of cars honking, businesses operating, airplanes flying overhead – that’s all noise. While the sounds of the city help to resemble the daily life of that city, the combination of all these sounds ultimately create a phenomenon called noise pollution.
Noise pollution is the aggregation, and in extreme cases amplification, of noise. Noise pollution causes problems for citizens and will continue to cause problems as more citizens move into cities across the globe. According to some estimates, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, and with this growth we will also likely see a large increase in the detrimental effects of noise pollution. The European Environment Agency explores those effects and “blames 10,000 premature deaths, 43,000 hospital admissions and 900,000 cases of hypertension a year in Europe on noise” (“Sonic Doom” by Godwin 2018). The detrimental effects of noise are also present outside of the domain of health; some suggest that there is reduced academic performance, an effect on animal ecosystems, and a reduction on real estate prices between 2-10% (according to Ramboll DK).
What can be done about it? The first step is to monitor the sound. That is where innovations like Soundsensing come in. IoT technology allows data to be collected across a variety of spaces, and noise monitoring is no different. Utilizing stand-alone sensors that connect to the cloud allow the sensors to do all the heavy lifting at the Edge. In essence, the process works a bit like this: capture noise from the environment through the sensor, analyze and classify sounds (think of classifying sounds as differentiating an airplane flying overhead versus a car honking), then storing the data in the cloud. This data can then be useful in making changes to help reduce noise pollution.