Peace and Quiet

Technology harnessed to combat noisy neighbors in Northern Ireland:

New app targets noisy neighbours, “permits anyone with a smartphone to record and upload a snapshot of the actual noise nuisance that they are experiencing.”  While there is the possibility of the app being used as a tool of harassment, the Belfast Telegraph reports that “there are inbuilt safeguards within the technology that will provide verification to the council’s investigating officer of the recording’s authenticity and a facility to ‘block’ those who have used the app maliciously.”

Maybe U.S. cities should consider employing technology to help them monitor and respond to noise complaints.  If nothing else, it could help address the frustration suffered by those trying to lodge complaints, as a visit by the police or other authority often comes after the offensive noise has stopped.

Need some white noise to help you sleep? You’re in luck:

White Noise 7 is out, and wants to be like Instagram for restful sounds.

When the White Noise app first went live in 2008, it went from being one of the first mobile apps to go live in the Apple store to the number one app in the fitness and health category.  Eight years later and the White Noise app remains popular and now allows users to upload sounds from around the world.  White Noise 7 is ad-supported, so no cost to download.

Location ‘no longer top priority’ for Brisbane’s first home buyers.

So what is the most important factor for first home buyers looking at apartments?  Noise.

Man calls police to investigate loud noise, and

it turns out to be hedgehogs having sex.  So how just how loud were these hedgehogs?  According to Metro, “[t]heir lovemaking was so passionate – and noisy – that the homeowner called police to report the mysterious ‘loud panting’ noise.”  The police quickly found the pair in flagrante delicto and the (obviously frustrated) hedgehogs scampered away upon discovery.

Not sure if this is an interesting or misguided approach to noise complaints:

Danbury debuts the “Noise Buster” to crack down on disorderly sound.

On the one hand, it will be hard to miss the “Noise Buster,” so people will be put on notice that the city intends to enforce its new noise ordinance.  On the other hand, we wonder whether the city’s new noise ordinance would survive the first law suit, given the standard the city has adopted for noise violation detection.  Namely:

Under the novel ordinance, the first of its kind in Connecticut, noise control officers and city police are authorized to use their trained ears to detect a noise violation – a technique called the plainly audible standard.

While the city wants to show that it takes noise complaints seriously, it obviously intends to encourage compliance rather than issue a spate of citations.  Among other things, fines start at $25 but only after a warning is given.  So you’ve been warned Danbury party thrower.  Keep the noise in check.

Turning Down The Background Noise

Could Help Toddlers Learn.

NPR reports on a recent study published in the journal Child Development that found that “[]loud background noise may make it harder for toddlers to learn language.”  NPR adds that “[m]any other studies have already found that background noise can limit children’s abilities to learn. Television noise, in particular, is ubiquitous in American homes and may negatively affect a child’s ability to concentrate.”

And there’s more.  Click the first link for the full story.

The Sounds Of Summer:

Worrying About Noise In The Sultry Season.  Joanna Weiss reflects on the sounds of summer and asks, “where is the line drawn, when someone’s joy is someone else’s nuisance.”

Link via @jeaninebotta.

An audiologist explains why noise is much more than a mere annoyance.

In “Why City Noise Is a Serious Health Hazard,” Eric Jaffe writes about noise in New York City.  His piece extensively quotes Craig Kasper, chief audiologist at New York Hearing Doctors, who notes how persistent noise complaints have been, citing a 1905 headline in the Times claiming New York to be “the noisiest city on earth.”  Kasper also discusses all of the ways in which noise adversely affects health and wellbeing (e.g., loss of sleep, anxiety, cardiovascular difficulties, etc.), adding that his patients “complain of loud restaurants the most.”  Oddly, this otherwise thoughtful piece concludes with Kasper stating that “noise adds to the charm of New York—and, really, any big city.”  It’s hard to accept that something as potentially damaging as noise can be described as charming.  Still, this short piece is worth a read.

A common lament:

Dyckman’s deafening daily drumbeat: A local resident is sick of the noise.

Ann Votaw writes about New Yorker’s number one complaint: noise.   Trying to understand out how to stop the noise in her neighborhood, she contacted Arline Bronzaft, a leading environmental psychologist who advised five mayors on the consequences of noise pollution, who stated that “[n]o other city in the United States is more aware of intrusive sound than New York.”  Ms. Bronzaft lauded the city’s 311 system, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the police department “for their dedication to the New York City Noise Code,” she acknowledged that 311 was effective at collecting metrics but was unsure of “how the system executes solutions leading to relief.”

New York City’s Noise Code and 311 system are good steps in combating noise pollution, but the focus must shift to enforcing the code and punishing offenders.  Until noise polluters understand that there are consequences for their actions, they will continue to make life hellish for those around them.

Thanks to Daniel Fink, M.D., a noise pollution activist in the Los Angeles area, for the link.  Dr. Fink serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association and is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council.