During the 174th ASA Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gregory S. Farber and past president Lily M. Wang reported on an exploratory, large-scale noise survey of sound levels of restaurants and bars in New York City using an app called SoundPrint. The related proceedings paper* states that SoundPrint encourages the public to collect and crowdsource sound level data. Furthermore, this information can help users visit locations based on their loudness (or quietness).
Since publishing, Farber has started a campaign to promote hearing health called the SoundPrint Find Your Quiet Place Challenge. Beginning October 1, 2023, participants are asked to take sound measurements and submit them to the SoundPrint database. The collection of sound level data will enable SoundPrint to advocate for safe noise levels, help communities find quieter places, and protect the public’s hearing health. Participants can even win prizes! For complete details, visit the FYQP webpage.
Want to explore further? Other tools and apps crowdsource sound data and educate people about acoustics. For example, the NoiseCapture app lets anyone measure their sound environment and share their geolocated measurements with the community in order to build a collective noise map. In The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) article, NoiseCapture smartphone application as pedagogical support for education and public awareness, authors describe how the app was used in educational settings to help students and teachers learn the basic knowledge of environmental acoustics and noise mapping.
You might be curious if smartphone apps are actually good enough to gather such sound data. Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) had similar questions resulting in two JASA publications about the accuracy of smartphone sound measurement applications; Evaluation of smartphone sound measurement applications and Evaluation of smartphone sound measurement applications (apps) using external microphones—A follow-up study. These studies, along with others, lead NIOSH to create the NIOSH Sound Level Meter App, which measures occupational noise exposure similar to professional instruments.
Let us know if you use any of these apps or other acoustics apps on your phone!
*Gregory S. Farberhttps://doi.org/10.1121/2.0000674Lily M Wang; Analyses of crowd-sourced sound levels of restaurants and bars in New York City. Proc. Mtgs. Acoust. 4 December 2017; 31 (1): 040003.