Urban noise monitoring

Holistic solutions for maintaining an ambient soundscape

Acoem safety and security solutions include a number of systems designed to quantify and qualify noise as part of regulatory compliance and environmental control in cities and built-up areas. Exposure to excessive levels of noise in urban environments is a major concern for citizens and government authorities. It leads to substantial health, educational, economic and quality of life issues. Monitoring and mitigation remain two of the most effective methods of management of urban noise pollution. 

Why urban noise monitoring is important

Noise pollution is considered one of the most disturbing quality-of-life concerns for urban residents. As cities grow, population rates rise and infrastructure expands, so too does the level of noise. In addition to disrupting our sleep and causing aggravation, excessive noise levels have extremely detrimental effects on our health. Long-term exposure to anthropogenic (man-made) noise has been shown to cause a range of problems including stress, anxiety, fatigue, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and hearing loss. 

People who live near major roads or airports tend to suffer more frequent headaches and are involved in a greater number of accidents. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies noise pollution (predominantly from road traffic) as the second most significant public health threat in developed nations after air pollution.

Evidence suggests that noise also impacts educational performance, with research indicating that long-term exposure to noise pollution can lead to learning and cognitive impairment in children, resulting in decreased memory capacity, reading skills and test scores. 

The economic impact of noise is also noteworthy. WHO studies in the United States and Europe demonstrate the relationship between environmental noise and real estate markets in cities, with housing prices falling as much as 2% per decibel (dB) increment of noise increase. Noise pollution is not only an annoyance but a major societal problem that requires constant intervention to maintain quality of life.

Major sources of man-made urban noise disturbances include:

Construction: jackhammering, compressor engines, metallic banging/scraping, piling
Emergency vehicle sirens 
Security alarms 
Road & rail traffic 
Loud music 
Events & crowds

Noise mitigation & intervention

While compliance with regulated guidelines and standards has the potential to reduce noise emissions, it in no way is a holistic solution. 

Individuals can choose to mitigate personal disturbances by wearing earplugs or noise canceling headphones to negate external interruptions to the soundscape. These strategies don’t reduce noise emissions but rather put the burden of mitigation on the affected. 

From an infrastructure and design perspective, erecting sound barriers along major roadways or train networks can lessen the impact of excessive noise. So too can soundproofing sports stadiums, muffling jackhammers for roadwork and developing quieter engines for aircraft.  

Unfortunately, noise is a reality we all must face if we live and work in urban environments, and depending on your location, ideally local, state or federal government regulations will provide a framework for some level of protection. But these standards can only be successful if businesses, individuals and industries abide by them and if accurate monitoring is carried out to ensure compliance.

Precise, real-time and hyper-localised urban noise monitoring can be used to gain insight beyond compliance data, allowing researchers and city officials to understand the type and extent of noise events, identify patterns of noise pollution in specific areas and make informed decisions regarding intervention strategies which may include:

  • Creating car free zones
  • Imposing tolls or taxes or cars during certain times
  • Encouraging greater use of public transport
  • Limiting construction times and areas
  • Moving road systems underground where possible
  • Providing incentives for positive behaviours rather than fines and penalties for breaches
  • Altering flight paths over residential areas
  • Subsidising sound proofing of homes

Methods of urban noise monitoring

As noise pollution in urban environments is constantly rising, innovative smart city applications are required for acoustic monitoring to inform and support government decision making.

From networks of next generation connected small sensors, to handheld sound meters, acoustic monitoring stations and sound-enabled security systems, Acoem offers a wide variety of options for project based to long-term urban noise monitoring solutions. Scalable and capable of source identification and high-quality, round-the-clock noise monitoring, our instruments and Internet of things (IoT) algorithm-driven data platform Cadence provide the accurate information you need to not only comply with regulations, but to mitigate excessive noise and protect the health and wellbeing of workers and local communities.  

Acoem urban noise monitoring solutions also give authorities and businesses greater transparency in their monitoring processes by allowing affected populations to access monitoring information via public signage or accessible websites. Concerned citizens can gain relevant and accurate data about their exposure to noise and use it to make decisions or hold agencies accountable for exceedances. 

Next generation road traffic urban noise monitoring technology 

Acoem has developed the Noise radar as a single holistic solution for monitoring and measuring urban road traffic noise. The system detects, identifies and localises the noise source using Cube™, a Class 1 (IEC 61672) certified 4G smart noise monitoring terminal. 

Measurements are corrected and validated according to external parameters. The offending vehicle is authenticated via licence plate reading using an integrated camera. The data is then transmitted via the ATD threat detection technology to our Cloud server and on to designated authorities for automatic issuing of infringements or penalties. All data and imagery is fully secure through encryption – including image blurring of drivers’ faces or distinguishing characteristics.

Noise radar

An innovative approach to fighting traffic noise pollution



Noise monitoring terminal


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