Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Fall 2015, page 3

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Activists call on citizens to post norm violation details on Facebook page

By Virat A Singh

Tired of a noisy procession or a DJ playing loud music at a function nearby? Noise pollution activists have called on the public to fight back using some basic apps and lodge a complaint with the police and also post it on a social media page created for this purpose.

"We have created a Facebook page called Citizens' Noise Map; we want people to start using it actively. There is no need to buy any sound measuring device, all one has to do is download a simple app, like noise meter, on their smartphones and record the levels. If found high, they should lodge a complaint with the police and also post it on this page," said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation that has been fighting against noise pollution.

"During festivals, every citizen can map noise levels in his/her area and, if there is any violation, not only report it, but also post it on the Citizens' Noise Map page with date, time and decibel level details. "We are fighting for a dedicated toll-free number, where citizens can lodge complaints specific to noise pollution. Even though the Bombay High Court (HC) has asked for this to be made available, it's yet to be done. But people should complain to either the local police station or the control room till then," suggested Abdulali.

Besides location and source of noise, citizens have also been asked to post if any action was taken by the police on the complaint. "It will help us document the noise levels as well as the response, so that we can put it in front of the HC that is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on noise pollution during festivals. These details will help us strengthen our case to ask for stricter implementation and point out loopholes," said Dr Mahesh Bedekar, who runs a hospital in Thane, and has filed the PIL.

According to activists fighting for strict implementation of noise pollution norms, construction work, loudspeakers during festivals and honking have been identified as the major contributors to noise pollution in Mumbai.

Noise pollution not only causes hearing loss and ringing in the ears, but is also known to affect attention span, and cause stress, anxiety and even hypertension as well as cardiovascular problems.

How a Solar Owl device hopes to deliver a silent night in the city

By James Phillips

Solar-powered sensors hope to tackle noise pollution in London and New York

An innovative solar-powered device that aims to reduce levels of noise pollution in urban environments could be rolled out across London and New York within the next few years. The Solar Owl: Sound device, which has been jointly created by solar product developer Polysolar, the University of Warwick, and smart metering technology supplier Sentec, can be wrapped around lamp posts and street signs to provide real-time data on outdoor noise levels.

The solar-powered device is designed to provide a com-prehensive set of data on noise levels in urban areas, which could then be used to help reduce noise-related health impacts, after a recent study from the World Health Organisation found long-term exposure to noise pollution could account for three per cent of heart disease and stress-related deaths, totalling around 3,300 deaths a year.

The device, which could cost as little as $20 per deploy-ment, would use an integrated microphone to monitor noise levels and then relay the time and location to a data aggregator using wireless technology. Edward Taylor, Sentec's lead on autonomous sensors, said the product could be used to inform and influence policy.

"The product specifications show that pervasive sensors like these are commercially viable," he said. "Ultimately a granular noise map of a city is a new prism for decision makers and it's exactly sensors like this, deployed at sufficient density, which will enable the kind of analysis and decisions which can improve the quality of life for city dwellers."

Joanna Slota-Newson, chief technology officer at Poly-solar, told BusinessGreen the companies hoped the de-vices could be rolled out across the two cities within a year or so, adding that enough data could be gathered to make the system a useful tool for policy-makers within a year.

"This project has delivered autonomous sensors ready for deployment to collect new kinds of data for smart cities applications, but the real innovation will come when we learn the best ways in which to use and learn from the information itself - from optimising traffic flow to security, the possibilities are very exciting," she added in a statement.

The developers said the device uses algorithms to control its power management, data collection, and transition, to ensure that it remains maintenance-free for over ten years.

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Most humans likely have their ears only to keep their hat from sliding down over their noses.

- Erich Kaestner

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