Citizen Scientists Work Together To Reduce City Noise

Citizen Scientists Work Together To Reduce City Noise

Locals target harmful noise pollution using their smartphones as sensors

Ross Brooks
  • 4 june 2014

Noise pollution doesn’t get as much attention as the other more pressing pollutants, but it’s still a problem. Too much noise can cause health issues such as stress and hypertension, sleeping disorders, and even disrupt local ecosystems. Instead of waiting for governments to do something, it’s possible to help solve the problem with an app called NoiseTube. Developed in France and Belgium, the app lets users record and map noise in their neighborhood, which can help target problem areas, and supply the necessary information to make changes.

The problem NoiseTube addresses is that governments don’t have the resources to distribute sensors across a city for long periods of time. Smartphones provide the necessary technology, while app users become the sensors needed to build a detailed map of the city and its noise pollution problems. Depending on uptake, the network could be used to supplement government efforts, or maybe even replace them altogether.


The app is available for both Android and iOS, which can be accessed on- or offline. While connected to the Internet, just open the app and it will automatically upload sound data collected while walking around. The only difference for offline mode is that you have to manually upload the data collected at a later date. You can also add manual comments in either mode, maybe to highlight a specific source of noise pollution should you want to use it as evidence later.

Instead of wasting time trying to convince governments of their importance, the creation of apps that turn smartphones into sensors might be a more immediate solution to problems like noise pollution. This would empower citizens to take action on the things that effect them regularly, as opposed to waiting years for a solution from the city.


It’s not just smartphones that can used as sensors either, one scientist used umbrellas as weather sensors earlier this year to try and collect more weather data in order to prevent urban flooding and other weather-related disasters.


[h/t] FastCoExist

Images by NoiseTube and Werner Wittersheim


Why The Apple Watch Is Taking Foot In The Restaurant Industry

Travel Today

Delta Lets Flyers Track Their Luggage From The Airplane To The Airport

The airline's new app allows customers to see exactly where their baggage is throughout their journey

Food Today

Chef Turns Invasive Species Into Delicious Sushi

Creator Bun Lai is adapting strange new ingredients for his menu, which responds to the ecological impact of overabundant creatures in the local environment


Get PSFK's Related Report: Sports Debrief

See All
Gaming & Play Today

Build Your Own Subway System In This Minimalist Game

Mini Metro lets you design your own fully functional transit network, simulating the flow of urban commuters with pared-down visuals

Work Today

Keyboard Designed To Help Women Use More Assertive Language

The device is a commentary on gender roles in the workplace, and features easy access to "power verbs" that help reinforce a habit of being direct in writing

Related Expert

Shane Smith

Media, Publishing, Youth Culture

Arts & Culture Today

Spanish Artist Dreams Up What Animals Would Look Like In Modern Clothing

Yago Partal's portraits depict the fantasized style preferences of creatures worldwide, from an Arctic wolf to a zebra

Fitness & Sport Today

New Data Technologies Make Hyper-Personalized Training A Reality

The Sports Debrief from PSFK Labs looks at how analytics tools are being developed to optimize human performance across all industries

Technology Today

IBM Watson Helps Grammy-Winning Producer Craft An EP

The computer system's data technology generated musical scores for Alex Da Kid's first solo project


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

General Electric: Lighting’s Impact On Sleep Is More Than The Off Switch

Jeff Patton, General Manager of Connected Home Products at GE Lighting, uncovers how lighting technologies can affect our sleep cycles

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Travel Yesterday

30-Year-Old Photographs Used As Travel Guides

A new photo series revolves around tracing the origins of images from the past

Children Yesterday

IKEA Is Letting Kids Design Its New Line Of Toys

The products are taken from fanciful drawings that showcase the imagination of those who use it most

Technology Yesterday

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

Health Yesterday

VR App Prescribed For Pain Relief

A pharmacy chain in Sweden is stepping away from tradition to develop a happy place for the pain-afflicted

Retail Yesterday

Banks Are Coming Together To Create A New Payment Network That Rivals Venmo

A number of financial institutions are collaborating to make a new person-to-person monetary system called Zelle for their customers

Media & Publishing Yesterday

Pocket Camera Aims To Facilitate The Struggles Of Live Streams

The Mevo helps resolve the complexities of streaming video with an intuitive setup and smart editing controls

Health Yesterday

Startup Believes Traceability Will Help Disrupt The Multivitamin Industry

Ritual is a daily supplement for women that traces every ingredient back to its source

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Photo Series Brutally Murders Some Of Your Favorite Fast Food

The portraits by artist duo Ilka & Franz do away with mealtime regulars in a way that is both beautiful and humorous

No search results found.