Helping scientists map the sound environment with a new mobile application is now possible. All Android smartphone owners will soon be able to contribute to a research project, simply by recording the sounds around them. The goal? To establish a participative mapping of the sound environment.
Illustration: Painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch
Exploiting signal processing algorithms, the NoiseCapture application, developed by researchers from CNRS and IFSTTAR (1)The "Acoustic Indicator" function calculates acoustic indicators as the user moves around. These geolocalized indicators are then anonymously fed back into a database to produce noise maps as close as possible to reality, with an extremely dense mesh. These noise maps obtained using smartphones can be used by local authorities to implement more targeted action plans to preserve or improve the quality of urban noise environments.
The NoiseCapture application, developed within the framework of the European ENERGIC-OD project (2) is a participatory project that associates specialists in environmental acoustics and specialists in geographic information sciences, which has enabled researchers to solve major problems such as interoperability, qualification and management of data from heterogeneous sources (noise levels, cadastral data, statistical data on populations, etc.). The NoiseCapture application is indeed accompanied by a complete information system that allows to store, query, analyze and share the collected data. This geographic information system now works in real time and will allow to build a perennial database on a global scale.
Beyond the scientific perspectives, which raise questions about the analysis of data quality, but also about the production of indicators or new supports for the restitution of results, researchers have been guided by the desire to open up research on the noise environment to as many people as possible (citizens, companies, communities, government services, scientists, etc.). This openness is reflected in an "open science" project with the development of common tools under an open source license, the dissemination of anonymous data collected under an open data license and the publication of research results in open access journals.
Screenshots of the Noise Capture application. CNRS-IFSTTAR
The work of the two teams involved is thus part of a citizen science approach. Through the NoiseCapture project, the objective is to involve citizens in the control of their territory, particularly in terms of noise pollution, a prerequisite for them to become actors in the improvement of the quality of their environment.
The NoiseCapture application will be presented to the public (3) during Digital Week on September 24, 2017 in Saint-Nazaire and will be available from September 1 on all Android phones.
(1 ) From the Laboratory of Information, Communication and Knowledge Sciences and Techniques (CNRS/Université Bretagne-Sud/ENI Brest/ENSTA Bretagne/Université Bretagne Occidental/Institut Mines Télécom) and the IFSTTAR Environmental Acoustics Laboratory.
(2 ) The ENERGIC-OD project (https://www.energic-od.eu/) was co-financed by the Pays de La Loire Region programme GEOPAL (http://www.geopal.org/).
(3) A first version has already been tested and used by other institutions in research programmes in Geneva and San Francisco..