The Design and Calibration of Low Cost Urban Acoustic Sensing Devices

Regular paper

Charlie Mydlarz

Center for Urban Science and Progress

Wednesday 3 june, 2015, 14:00 - 14:20

0.8 Rome (118)

The urban sound environment of New York City (NYC) can be, amongst other things: loud, intrusive, exciting and dynamic. As indicated by the large majority of noise complaints registered with the NYC 311 information/complaints line, the urban sound environment has a profound effect on the quality of life of the city’s inhabitants. To monitor and ultimately understand these sonic environments, a process of long-term acoustic measurement and analysis is required. The traditional method of environmental acoustic monitoring utilizes short term measurement periods using expensive equipment, setup and operated by experienced and costly personnel. The proposed project takes a different approach to this application by implementing smart, low-cost, static, acoustic sensing devices based around consumer hardware. These devices can be deployed in numerous and varied urban locations for long periods of time, allowing for the collection of longitudinal urban acoustic data. The varied environmental conditions of New York City make for a challenge in gathering calibrated sound pressure level data for prospective stakeholders. The wide variations in temperature and humidity affect microphone sensitivity and response, which can increase the likelihood of the generation of erroneous sound pressure level readings. This paper details the sensors’ design, development and potential future applications, with a focus on the calibration of the devices’ MEMS microphone in order to generate reliable decibel levels at the Type/Class 2 level.

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