News & Views
16 May 2021

Is society ready for real time noise
mapping? How can continuous data
feeds from robust smart monitoring
systems enable real time noise maps?

For high profile projects such as HS2, noise has been a huge concern. In fact, Google trend data shows ‘HS2 noise’ has been a consistent search term in the United Kingdom, since 2011. Noise mapping has been, and will continue to be, a crucial part of data collection in largescale projects like these, to ensure society is protected and projects implement correct noise mitigation processes.

In reality, noise maps are relatively static. They give an ‘average view’ of noise level and changes to noise are not represented on noise maps in real time. So how is KP Acoustics making real time noise mapping a reality?

What is noise mapping?

Normally reserved for large developments, noise mapping is a relatively high cost and time-consuming process, but one that is necessary for new motorways, railway lines and airports, as part of approval processes with local authorities. We’ve provided noise mapping for projects all over the world, including for a large scale new motorway construction in Singapore.

A noise map is coloured according to noise levels, with variable colours and intensities representing different amplitudes. Noise levels vary over time, for example noise levels rise as a vehicle approaches and reduces as it passes. Similarly, in peak levels of traffic, noise levels will be heightened compared to less busier times.  Additionally, wind, weather and season all affect noise levels.

It’s not possible to say with absolute confidence what the noise level will be for a given time based on a noise map. Long-term average noise levels seem to be the best acoustic consultants or environmental officers have to work with, and for the most part, they provide a good indication for approval processes. But, for noise monitoring applications where fast response to noise changes is important, a static noise map may be insufficient. So, what’s the alternative?

Real time data capture

Using a continued data feed from robust smart monitoring, noise maps can represent noise levels in real time. This means no more ‘long term average noise levels’, but rather, accurate and precise noise monitoring for any given time.

Real time noise mapping will prove useful in noise monitoring applications that require more agile responses to noise variation. Quicker and more accurate insight enables a swifter response to noise mitigation and environmental protection. Combined with other smart sensors and controllers, real time noise mapping could soon be a fundamental part of automated noise control.

 Interestingly, real time noising mapping has been researched in the past. In fact, the report titled State of art on real time noise mapping system and related software development affirmed the technology’s cost viability. While this confirmation seemingly wasn’t enough to push the technology into reality, people have become more sensitive to noise in recent years, developing a direct relationship with their internal and external soundscapes. They are more switched-on on what noise really is. A culture of continuous monitoring that acts as a feedback mechanism to, in required, reduce noise, could be the biggest driver of this technology.

While real time noise maps aren’t the norm yet, stay tuned for a very significant development from KP Acoustics. We are working on something very exciting which could enable this level of real time data acquisition, and we can’t wait to tell you more in the near future!

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