Setting the Scene
New York is a city that truly never sleeps. Car horns, jackhammers and sirens blare, making noise New Yorker’s biggest civic complaint. Noise pollution is a problem in cities around the country, and it can affect everything from children’s learning to increasing cardiac risks.
The Sounds of New York City (SONYC) project aims to understand noise pollution better, so cities can plan and reduce the effects of noise on citizens. With expertise in machine learning, acoustics, citizen science, and big data, SONYC’s NYU based science team has developed a platform to make sense of the noise.
Making it Work
The first step to mitigating noise pollution was to understand the sounds that were causing harm in the first place. The SONYC team needed a way to collect urban noise data. They collaborated with Loft to develop a rugged, easy to install IIOT (Industrial Internet Of Things) urban noise collection network – essentially a smart sound level meter that New Yorkers could easily mount outside their windows. Using cell networks, the devices collect and process noise in affected neighborhoods.
The project’s challenge: hanging a sensitive acoustic sensor, electronics, and wireless communication from a 37th floor NYC apartment window. Inside the device, a compact and powerful computer processes the initial data before sending it to the cloud via an integrated cellular antenna. The enclosure is gasket sealed for protection against the elements, and a waterproof membrane protects the microphone while allowing sound to be transmitted without distortion.
Loft is building 100 initial production units which will be deployed to New Yorker’s homes, collecting noise information across the city. Thanks to SONYC’s expertise in big data, insights from the analysis of all this urban noise data will be communicated to city agencies tasked with enforcing the city’s noise code.
The Bottom Line
With a distributed network of sensors, citizens engaging in the data collection efforts, cutting edge analysis, and the cooperation of city officials, the SONYC project has an opportunity to make a big impact on the lives of New Yorkers. Loft’s engineering and manufacturing expertise helped the project reach critical scale and reduce cost. These sensors will help accelerate data collection, train the AI system, and get meaningful noise feedback to NYC policy makers. With any luck, the city that never sleeps can finally get some shut eye.