Citizen study maps environmental noise in Flemish cities

Smart sound sensors will record environmental noise in Antwerp, Ghent and Leuven as part of a study to examine the impact of environmental noise on public health. About 1,200 people will take part in the experiment.

De Oorzaak is an ambitious citizen study set up by the University of Antwerp, Antwerp University Hospital and Flemish newspaper De Morgen. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), excessive or disturbing noise can cause stress, sleep disorders and hearing loss.

The project started last year with the launch of a questionnaire, in which 8,781 people in Flanders gave the researchers comprehensive answers about the effects of noise on their lives.

About 1,200 people will now participate in the next stage. All participants will map the environmental noise near their homes for two months, using a sound sensor on a facade of their home that records each peak noise. Community centres will also participate and there are fixed reference sensors at various locations in the cities.

“An algorithm labels each peak sound, for example an aircraft, voices, a car or a tram, and then summarises the main characteristics of the sound, including volume, frequency and duration,” said project leader Cedric Vuye of the University of Antwerp. The researchers then receive the analysed data via the telephone network. No sound fragments are stored on the sensor or transmitted to the server. Participants can follow the measurements live on a personal dashboard.

Anyone interested can still sign up and participate after the summer. In total, about 2,400 people will be able to take part.

In a next phase, the researchers will examine the impact of environmental noise in greater detail with a group of 100 citizen scientists, through a medical study.


#FlandersNewsService | Frustrated young woman covering her ears ​ © BELGA PHOTO IMAGEBROKER


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