Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp –

Technical University Berlin
Psychoacoustics and Noise Effects
Einsteinufer 25
10587 Berlin -Germany

Popular version of paper 1pNS2
Monday, May 13, 2019
177th ASA Meeting in Louisville, KY

When you think about your safety and health with regard to road traffic you may not immediately think about avoidable noise pollution. But: The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a new Noise Guideline for the European Region in October 2018. The focus is set on health effects caused by noise from different sources whereby as transportation noise as road traffic-, railway- and aircraft-noise play the major role.

The use of environmentally friendly electrical vehicles can for sure decrease the road traffic noise pollution as a contribution to public health.  But for safety reason which it is of course also a public health issue there is also policy action for regulations of the use of alert signals.  There is a worldwide consideration about how this could may be counterproductive to a harmonic and healthy soundscape or even support those.

(Regulation (EU) No 540/2014 of the European Parliament 2018, U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2018,  Japan Guidelines on Electric vehicle warning sounds 2010)

Soundscape is the new way to understand people’s reaction to the sounds of the world. Soundscape is a construct of human perception that must be understood as a relationship between human beings, acoustic environments, and society. Our focus in this field is here on co-creation in acoustics, architecture, medicine, and urban planning.  It is combined with analysis, advice, and feedback from the ‘users of any acoustic environment as the primary ‘experts’ of any environment – to find creative and responsive solutions for protection of living areas and to enhance the quality of life.

The Soundscape concept is introduced as a scope to rethink the evaluation of noise pollution. The challenge is to account for the perceptual dimension and to consider the limits of acoustic measurements.

Figure 1– The recent international standard ISO 12913-1,2,3 Acoustics – Soundscape
soundscape soundscape soundscape

Figure 2 – Definition of Soundscape
– acoustic environment as perceived or experienced and/or understood by people, in context.

Soundscape as defined in 2014 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

Figure 3 – Elements in the perceptual construct of soundscape

The context includes the interrelationships between person and activity and place, in space and time. The context may influence soundscape through (1) the auditory sensation, (2) the interpretation of auditory sensation, and (3) the responses to the acoustic environment

The contribution of Soundscape (research) regarding public health means to focus on the perception as a key issue. With Soundscape it is suggested to exploring noise in its complexity and its ambivalence.  Soundscape studies investigate and find increasingly better ways to measure and hone the acoustic environment.

Figure 4 – Soundscape studies

Figure 5 – Soundscape model including quality of life and health

Otherwise, the new technology in the development of electrical vehicles causes policy action with regulations calling for safety reasons. Regulations and needs have to be considered with respect to the public health recommendations on exposure to environmental noise and soundscapes.

There have to be solutions that follow the need outlined in the WHO guidelines to “provide robust public health advice underpinned by evidence, which is essential to drive policy action that will protect communities from the adverse effects of noise”.

The process of tuning of urban areas with respect to the expertise of people’s mind and quality of life is related to the strategy of co-creation and provides the theoretical frame with regard to the solution of e.g. the change in an area. In other words: Approaching the field on traffic safety and public health in this holistic manner is generally needed.

To establish the Soundscape concept and the Soundscape approach, there is the need to advise the respective local actors and stakeholders in communities to using the resources given with respect to future generations and socio-cultural, aesthetic and economic effects as well. It was widely discussed in earlier publications that a platform is needed for stakeholders for co-creation and find common decisions. Moreover, the current approach within the standardization of Soundscapes have provided a big step towards enhancing the quality of life for people.

WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region (2018)

  1. Kang, J., B. Schulte-Fortkamp (Eds.) Soundscape and the built environment, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton. (2016)
  2. Schulte-Fortkamp, (2013). Soundscape – a matter of human resources, Internoise 2013, Proc., Innsbruck, Austria
  3. Schulte-Fortkamp, J. Kang (editors) Special Issue on Soundscape, JASA 2012
  4. Kang, J., Aletta, F., Gjestland, T.T., Brown, L.A., Botteldooren, D., Schulte-Fortkamp, B., Lercher, P., Kamp, I.van., Genuit, K., Fiebig, A., Bento
  5. Coelho, L., Maffei, L., Lavia, L., (2016). Ten questions on the soundscapes of the built environment, Building and Environment, Vol. 108 (1), 284-294
  6. M. Schafer, “The Soundscape. Our sonic environment and the tuning of the world.” Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books, (1977).
  7. Hollstein, “Qualitative approaches to social reality: the search for meaning” in: John Scott & Peter J. Carrington (Eds.): Sage handbook of social network analysis. London/New Delhi: Sage. (2012)
  8. Hiramatsu, “Soundscape: The Concept and Its Significance in Acoustics,” Proc. ICA, Kyoto, 2004.
  9. Fiebig, B. Schulte-Fortkamp, K. Genuit, „New options for the determination of environmental noise quality”, 35th International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering INTER-NOISE 2006, 04.-06.December 2006, Honolulu, HI.
  10. Lercher, B. Schulte-Fortkamp, “Soundscape and community noise annoyance in the context of environmental impact assessments,” Proc. INTER-NOISE 2003, 2815-2824, (2003).
  11. Schulte-Fortkamp, D. Dubois: (editors) Acta Acustica united with Acustica, Special Issue, Recent advances in Soundscape research, Vol 92 (6), (2006).
  12. Regulation (EU) No 540/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on the sound level of motor vehicles and of replacement silencing systems, and amending Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directive 70/157/EEC (OJ L 158, 27.5.2014)
  13. Regulation No 138 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UNECE) — Uniform provisions concerning the approval of Quiet Road Transport Vehicles with regard to their reduced audibility [2017/71] (OJ L 9, 13.1.2017)
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