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Science Technology

Europe Begins Noise Mapping Effort 381

Posted by Hemos
from the mapping-of-a-different-ssort dept.
Makarand writes "The European continent has begun its fight against noise pollution by initiating a program to map noise levels for cities in the European Union with more than 250,000 people. As placing microphones on every building in London or Paris to measure noise was not practical, data on the amount of traffic carried by roads and the noise levels was fed into computers to generate a model of noise levels across the city. The model's accuracy was verified by taking readings with microphones at 100 points in the city and was found to be accurate on average to within 1 decibel. The noise maps will allow planning to insulate the public from noise by directing traffic away from residential areas and making funds available to sound-proof thin walled homes."
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Europe Begins Noise Mapping Effort

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  • Rich country? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:50AM (#7659052) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes I wish the U.S. government wasn't spending so much trying to build up the military and instead redirect those funds to building up the national infrastructure.

    It especially pangs me when I read about things like this where the British government is spending lots of excess government funds on sound-proofing people's homes.
    • Re:Rich country? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The US has a lower population density than Europe. So noise problems are a bigger issue.
    • Re:Rich country? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:58AM (#7659100)
      Ummm... Did you even think before you posted, or do you just like to bring politics into every possible discussion? Europe has a much higher population density, therefore you can expect noise problems to be worse. I'm from Canada, but I don't recall hearing people from the US ranting and raving about the "noise pollution". It's barely been touched on by the media.
    • Re:Rich country? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RevMike (632002) <revMikeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:03AM (#7659125) Journal

      Sometimes I wish the U.S. government wasn't spending so much trying to build up the military and instead redirect those funds to building up the national infrastructure.

      It especially pangs me when I read about things like this where the British government is spending lots of excess government funds on sound-proofing people's homes.

      Please explain this to me. Someone purchases a house with walls that aren't very sound proof. They presumably knew this at the time of purchase, it would be ridiculous to think otherwise. Someone else spends the time to investigate their choices, and eventually spends more money on a house with more sound proof walls. Why should the person who spent extra to buy a house with soundproof walls now have to pay additional taxes to soundproof someone else's home - someone else who didn't care enough about it to shop for that feature in the first place?

      If you bought a four bedroom home, and your neighbor only bought a two bedroom home, would you expect that the tax man would come and empty your bank account so that you neighbor could get an addition built?

      All this does is encourage people to do the cheapest thing possible, then use some ill concieved government program to clean up the mess afterwards.

      Please note: I'm not talking about a situation where the government built an airport or some such thing near a previously quiet neighborhood. I'm talking about cases where the home-owner knew (or should have known) the conditions prior to purchase.

      • Re:Rich country? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ThogScully (589935) <neilsd@neilschelly.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:14AM (#7659193) Homepage
        I know this is Slashdot, but don't you ever go outside? Not much you can do to sound proof your yard, is there. I assume you never open your windows either? Personally, I do both and if I were in England, I would hope the government would be spending a little effort to make living areas a little more liveable.

        Now, I'm from the US, so I can't say if this is useful or not to the areas being investigated because I've never been there and don't know how loud it is. Realistically, there's the potential that this is more of a made up problem and people shouldn't be so concerned as the noise levels don't warrant it. However, just from this article, I'd say that's not an assumption I can jump to.

        You seem to have no trouble jumping to it though.
        -N
        • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Informative)

          by stry_cat (558859)

          I know this is Slashdot, but don't you ever go outside? Not much you can do to sound proof your yard, is there. I assume you never open your windows either? Personally, I do both and if I were in England, I would hope the government would be spending a little effort to make living areas a little more liveable.

          Most neighborhoods I've seen build near roads have large sound barriers that really cut down on the noise. In many cases where new roads are made or old ones enlarged, sound barriers are included i

          • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Of course this doesn't actually put the cost of the things on the people who benefit from them.
            No, of course you don't charge homeowners extra money in order to run a motorway through their back garden. Are you insane? Even putting up a sound barrier probably won't prevent the value of the nearby property from falling, so actually you should be charging tolls on all new or enlarged roads and paying a proportion of those tolls to people who live nearby.
          • Re:Rich country? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Brad (3629) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:10AM (#7659552)
            A better solution would be to have the homeowners association pay for the sound barriers.

            Within or near city centers many of the effected neighborhoods were built long before the road was expanded or even built. Many were boulivards carrying traffic at sedate speeds before their conversion to multi-lane super-highways that carry a greatly increased volume of vehicles at much higher speeds.

            To follow a slightly different logic: The people using the roads should be the ones paying for them (forget about the lower taxes on diesel fuel used by the large trucks whose relentless pounding destroys the roads). As a direct result of the people using the new road, there is a large increase in noise. Therefore, as part of the roadway's construction or expansion, noise reduction needs to be included to try and mitigate some of the new noise pollution.
          • Re:Not even (Score:3, Interesting)

            by symbolic (11752)
            A better solution would be to have the homeowners association pay for the sound barriers.

            When I first moved into my current residence, things were relatively calm. Not quiet, but calm - I could easily handle the road(tire) noise from the cars that passed by, because it had an ebb and flow similar to the noise that ocean waves might make. Over the last few years, the city has issued permit after permit, filling in every possible empty space, adding apartment complex after apartment complex, more businesses
        • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RevMike (632002)

          I know this is Slashdot, but don't you ever go outside? Not much you can do to sound proof your yard, is there. I assume you never open your windows either? Personally, I do both and if I were in England, I would hope the government would be spending a little effort to make living areas a little more liveable.

          Forgive me if I'm wrong, but the original comment was discussing the soundproofing of walls in homes. No matter how much money the government gives people to sound insulate their walls, it isn't g

          • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ThogScully (589935)
            No, you're not wrong... but the article is also about finding ways to adjust traffic routing to reduce noise pollution outside. The research this article talks about is likely useful for both applications, but to decide that the research is useless because it will justify the government buying people new walls is rather an odd argument.
            -N
      • Re:Rich country? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Noryungi (70322) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:17AM (#7659213) Homepage Journal
        Please explain this to me. Someone purchases a house with walls that aren't very sound proof. They presumably knew this at the time of purchase, it would be ridiculous to think otherwise. Someone else spends the time to investigate their choices, and eventually spends more money on a house with more sound proof walls. Why should the person who spent extra to buy a house with soundproof walls now have to pay additional taxes to soundproof someone else's home - someone else who didn't care enough about it to shop for that feature in the first place?

        It's obvious if you live in Europe, where a lot of houses and buildings are old, and do not provide adequate sound-proofing.

        If you add to this situation the fact that a lot of streets in large European cities are small and not made for cars (meaning medieval streets, not US-Grid-Style streets/boulevard), you have a recipe for a lot of noise and pollution, which many European cities are/were not designed to take into account.

        Also, if you are lucky enough to find a cheap place to live in one of those cities (London and Paris -- for instance -- are among the most expensive places on Earth), noise control is going to be the least of your worries -- rent is a killer in those cities. And forget about space, since having more than one bedroom is going to deplete your bank account for the next 10 years or so.

        Finally, I suspect most european governments are going to finance this simply by giving tax-breaks to people who will overhaul the sound-proofing of their flats and houses, and not tax other home owners.
        • You didn't respond to the poster AT ALL. Giving tax breaks to those who overhaul still doesn't solve the problem of "why punish the person who investigated his purchase first and already accounted for soundproofing in his expenditures." Everytime someone makes a stupid purchase the government should give them a tax break to help equal them out with those who made a good purchase? WHAT?
          • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Informative)

            by Noryungi (70322)
            why punish the person who investigated his purchase first and already accounted for soundproofing in his expenditures.

            Maybe I was not clear enough in my answer. What I was trying to point out is that a lot of buildings in Europe are old to very old and never incorporated sound-proofing at all.

            It's not a stupid decision to buy an old house or a flat in an old building: sometimes, it's just really hard to find a modern building, either downtown or in the suburbs.

            In any case, giving a tax break to X to put
      • Re:Rich country? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gl4ss (559668) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:20AM (#7659227) Homepage Journal
        those houses were probably built decades ago. if they were built now they would have adequate soundproofing from day 1. it's more of a problem in old, big, central area buildings. these buildings have a lot of other problems as well though, but it's not the way you do things in certain countries that you would just demolish them and build them again properly(and sometimes it's wanted to keep the old buildings as heritage in the city picture). these buildings that are in the centres of the cities are sometimes 50 or more years old, and back then soundproofing wasn't viewed as necessity(there weren't that much noise anyways).

        it's in goverments(the peoples!) intrest to protect the people from stress that comes from extra noise.. it costs money you know when people are unable to work for some reason or another. you could argue that it's in their(peoples) intrest to spend the money in nukes that are then stored in silos for 50 years and then thrown away as well, but i might not agree(the nukes don't up the productivity or enhance the living quality).

        • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gordonjcp (186804)
          50 years old is fairly new for a lot of buildings in European cities. The flat I live in is in a building that's only about 120 years old. My own house up north is about 400 years old.
        • Re:Rich country? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SubtleNuance (184325) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:13AM (#7659573) Journal
          Ive not read the whole of the posts here, but Im willing to bet there are allot of people crying "oh, this is pork, governments wasting money -- ha ha you Europeans pay tones of taxes and see it wasted ha ha suckers. bureaucracy run amuck with naval gazing. ha ha." kinds of attitude.

          Really, how better to dedicate the resources of ones culture than the investigation of the cause/effect and remedy for general, shared problems? Why the hell not? I can think of no better things to investigate.

          The masses are convinced -- almost without pause -- that spending money on single-serving yogurt-like snacks(ever *made* your own yogurt -- VERY VERY GOOD & EASY), RetiredBoxerBrand electric grills (whats wrong with your stove?), ZXY(TM) Brand $200 shoes, and blah blah blah is a good reward in exchange for my personal effort (the $ youve collected in exchange for work).. I say hogwash.

          If Im going to sacrifice 40hrs of ever week, I damn well want something worth while in exchange for my Cached-Work($). Being the sucker in some capitalist's get-rich scheme, at the expense of the planet (pollution/waste/garbage) is not all that attractive -- but insead of paying for research like this (in taxes) people are usually DrivenByMindControl to buying SomeDamnedGarbage.

          Where am i going with this? What is more useful? What is the greatest benefit of the product of our collective resources (the above mentioned consumer-garbage) **OR** some peace from the endless noise in a mechanized-industrial city....

          I am willing to forgo buying some of that seemingly-benign-consumer-garbage in order to help pay researchers to think about something useful. Are you? Im betting most sane, normal people would agree. Instead of working to make Widgets (as I do), I wish there was a greater market for doing something WorthWhile. The Automobile that I contribute to manufacturing is not a goal I consider worthy of my time. I have no problem working, its the *goal* or product of my effort that is worthless. But, we live in a world with F'ed up priorities (we spend to much of our Cached-Work($) buying Useless Garbage, making the production of Useless Garbage a more common goal that most would like)

          These kinds of 'decisions' and 'trade-offs' are taking place all the time (every thing you do has an impact on the world). Stop and think occasionally: "what benefit, at what cost is my decision having to bear on myself and my community? What responsibility do I accept or abandon that are the consequences of this decision? How can I make the world just a little better at Zero or No 'cost' to myself or my community?"

          So, how far off topic is this?
          • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gfxguy (98788)
            I am willing to forgo buying some of that seemingly-benign-consumer-garbage in order to help pay researchers to think about something useful. Are you? Im betting most sane, normal people would agree.

            I would hope most sane, normal people would agree that if you wanted to make that decision, then go ahead and make that decision for yourself and not everyone else. Or do you really think you're so much smarter than everybody else that your ideas should be mandated by an already fat government?

            The Automobil
          • Really, how better to dedicate the resources of ones culture than the investigation of the cause/effect and remedy for general, shared problems? Why the hell not? I can think of no better things to investigate.

            Because the resources that are being dedicated are being seized at gunpoint. Furthermore, while you may not be able to think of better things to investigate, there may be millions of people who want to exercise their freedom and hard-earned money on what they want exercise it on. What gives your o
        • What are you talking about. It is new buildings which HAVE inferior soundproofing. Thats because plywood and sheetrock doesn't reduce the impact of your neighbors belching, let alone traffic.

          Have you ever lived in an apartment building? its pretty common knowledge you want to avoid new buildings, unless they are luxury apartments with concrete in the walls, BECAUSE they are so noisy.

          Old buildingss were constructed of brick and plaster, which is essentially soundproof. I know, I used to live in a 100 yea
        • by tommck (69750) on Monday December 08, 2003 @02:47PM (#7661200) Homepage
          back then soundproofing wasn't viewed as necessity(there weren't that much noise anyways).


          What about the guy rolling through town with a cart shouting "Bring out your dead!" and the lady beating the cat against the wall! That's a lot of noise if you ask me!

      • by chrispl (189217) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:29AM (#7659293) Homepage
        Maybe if you consider that spending money improving problems in residential areas (like doing stuff about traffic noise) that raises the value of the area and make it a more desirable place to live might have some beneficial, if not immediate effects for everyone.

        At least that's what Sim City taught me.
        • Re:Rich country? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by RevMike (632002) <revMikeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:58AM (#7659463) Journal
          Maybe if you consider that spending money improving problems in residential areas (like doing stuff about traffic noise) that raises the value of the area and make it a more desirable place to live might have some beneficial, if not immediate effects for everyone.

          Certainly, but it would be much more effective to treat the cause rather than the effect. Would soundproofing people's homes really do that much good in improving the neighborhood if people couldn't open a window or sit in their yard for fear of the noise? Better that the noise be mitigated nearer to the source. Let people enjoy their yards and local parks to.

        • Did SimCity also teach you that, when you have moderate taxes and everywhere on your map is "nice", that the residents are bitching about low-rent housing?

          There is a problem here that more government regulation and taxes will not solve - marginal home owners will not be able to afford the houses. Instead of forcing them to wait or not buy a house at all, how about leaving the choice with the people?
      • Re:Rich country? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aallan (68633) <alasdair@@@babilim...co...uk> on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:33AM (#7659317) Homepage

        Please explain this to me. Someone purchases a house with walls that aren't very sound proof. They presumably knew this at the time of purchase, it would be ridiculous to think otherwise. Someone else spends the time to investigate their choices, and eventually spends more money on a house with more sound proof walls. Why should the person who spent extra to buy a house with soundproof walls now have to pay additional taxes to soundproof someone else's home - someone else who didn't care enough about it to shop for that feature in the first place?

        Welcome to the difference between a pure capitalist economy, and a one where some remenants of socialism still remain. The person buying the sub-standard house might not be able to afford a better one? Why shouldn't our tax money be used to improve their standard of living?

        All this does is encourage people to do the cheapest thing possible, then use some ill concieved government program to clean up the mess afterwards.

        No, it doesn't. The "ill concieved government program" is helping improve the country's housing stock. Eventually all houses will be well sound proofed and you've improved everyone's standard of living. What's wrong with that?

        The problem with far right and the far left is that there are things wrong with both capitalism and socialism. Ayn Rand is just as bad a Karl Marx.

        Al.
        • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gfxguy (98788)
          Welcome to the difference between a pure capitalist economy, and a one where some remenants of socialism still remain. The person buying the sub-standard house might not be able to afford a better one? Why shouldn't our tax money be used to improve their standard of living?

          Because then they wouldn't be able to afford a house AT ALL.
      • Re:Rich country? (Score:5, Informative)

        by slashusrslashbin (641072) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:36AM (#7659340)
        Those worst affected houses in London are in general not just decades old, they are well on their way to being centuries old!

        Not only do they have no sound insulation, but they may also have little thermal insulation, and ill-fitting single-glazed windows and doors.

        For some time it's been possible to get grants to thermally insulate a house, largely since it is only really economic to do so in the long term (the energy savings also contribute to cutting CO2 emmissions), and poorer people living in the poorer housing can't afford it, and are usually renting anyway.

        It's great to hear that the government may be recognizing noise pollution as something which significantly affects people's health in the same way that it recognizes air pollution as doing so.

        Noise pollution from traffic causes sleep-deprevation, stress and ultimately illness, and most of the people living in the worst affected housing have little choice in where they live; it's not a choice of moving to somewhere nice and quiet, because that's where all the rich people have moved to.

      • Someone purchases a house ["PIG"] with walls that aren't very sound proof ["POKE"]. They presumably knew this at the time of purchase, it would be ridiculous to think otherwise.

        Not it's not ridiculous to assume otherwise.

        In case you haven't noticed, there are a lot of buyers out there that

        • do not thoroughly investigate their purchases,
        • are easily swayed by the superficial.

        not to mention sellers that are financially motivated to

        • not disclose or to minimize hidden or long-term problems,
        • to emphasize t
        • There is also the matter of the fact that the housing market is very tight, so there just might not be many homes on the market with adequate sound protection. Not that you would have time to find out anyway, since the homes sell in about three days after going on the market. If you find a good deal, it's not like you have a lot of time to research every aspect of the house before someone else snatches it up. The world is brutal, and sometimes unfair; that's life.
      • This isn't the simple argument you're making it into at all. Maybe you should go and look at a specific example of how one local government responds to noise around airports. [macavsat.org]

        Criminy. I look down the message tree and see people talking about how "socialism" only makes the problem worse. Okay, let's just let the private airlines decide when and where their planes fly, unhampered by any (socialist) regulation, and then we'll allow the market to decide whether houses under those routes are soundproofed, and h

        • Welcome to a mixed economy, in which the government has some influence over private industry in the interest of the common good. I kind of like living here; maybe you'll take to it. Or maybe you'd like to have the private airlines put in a new runway and start bringing 747s in low over your back yard, with no power to do squat about it.

          Be very careful about your argument here. The details are important.

          If I own a piece of residential property, and an airline buys up nearby land and builds a new airpo

        • There's a difference between living in a quiet area that then has something noisy added, and CHOOSING to live in a noisy area.

          When something is ADDED to an existing residential area, then the entity creating that addition certainly has a responsibility to the residents, but beyond that, too bad.

          Most major airports have been around for many decades. In the U.S., the last statistic I heard on the matter (a couple of years ago), was that homeowners own a house for an average of seven years. If you do the m
      • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jridley (9305)
        Please note: I'm not talking about a situation where the government built an airport or some such thing near a previously quiet neighborhood. I'm talking about cases where the home-owner knew (or should have known) the conditions prior to purchase.

        I've seen the same sort of short-sighted buying in the US in rural areas. I've seen places where people have built new houses a half mile from a livestock farm that has been there for 50 years, then when they finally move in, they discover that when the wind is
        • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Informative)

          by RevMike (632002)

          I've seen the same sort of short-sighted buying in the US in rural areas. I've seen places where people have built new houses a half mile from a livestock farm that has been there for 50 years, then when they finally move in, they discover that when the wind is blowing the right way, there's a smell. Then they try to get zoning changed, or they sue, or some other tactic, to try to get the farm closed. What, you didn't think pigs smelled? Or did you even check to see who your neighbors were?

          My personal f

      • Re:Rich country? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        On one hand, you're right. It's unfair to the individual to expect those who planned well to support those who did not. On the other hand, that's pretty much what society is. It's probably a lot cheaper to soundproof homes (or provide financial incentives to those who will do it) than to, say, restrict cars from these streets which were built not around the automobile, but foot and horse traffic, with the occasionall carriage.

        The goal of modern societies is to provide for all its people. Sometimes the mos

    • Re:Rich country? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wtf, if someone wants a soundproofed house they can bloody well pay for it themselves.

      Keep your grubby little paws off my wallet.
    • Re:Rich country? (Score:2, Informative)

      by frinkster (149158)
      The US is spending some money on research for quieter roadways.
      The Purdue Institute for Safe, Quiet, and Durable Highways [purdue.edu]

      Just because it's not in the news doesn't mean it's not happening.
    • Sometimes I wish the U.S. government wasn't spending so much trying to build up the military and instead redirect those funds to building up the national infrastructure.
      So the Canadian hordes could come pouring in through our infrastructure unopposed? Screw that!
  • As placing microphones on every building in London or Paris to measure noise was not practical, data on the amount of traffic carried by roads and the noise levels was fed into computers to generate a model of noise levels across the city. Who says noise comes only from traffic?
    • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:00AM (#7659114)

      According to the article, 100 microphones do, and they agree within 1 decibel.

      • by thrillseeker (518224) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:18AM (#7659216)
        According to the article, 100 microphones do [say noise comes from traffic], and they agree within 1 decibel.

        So why not spend the billions developing quieter traffic? Put it into fuel cells and electric motors, for example.

        • Good idea.

          I just read an article about the Prius. Its one of the few cars that gets better mileage in city driving vs. highway, since the gas engine is off most of the time. Its also quieter in the city. Of course, US refuses to impose tighter mileage requirements, and I note that since SUVs are getting a bad name, the car ads are now pushing 7-passenger "mini" vans. Makes no sense.

          • Uh, you may be surprised to hear this, but minivans have been around since the late 80s (earlier if you count the VW Microbus/Eurovan). They've never been small or particularly efficent vehicles, but they aren't considerably worse than the average 8 seat station wagon as far as pollution and gas milage go. It's not like a family with 6 kids will fit in a Prius.
        • This is already going on in the western U.S...
          Cities are laying down rubberized asphalt in lieu of building noise walls.

          A quote for the pdf belowThe study concluded that there was an approximate 10 dBA reduction in noise with the rubberized asphalt compared with the chip seal asphalt.
          In my experience - it has been rather effective.

          Check Here [rubberizedasphalt.org] and
          Here [saccounty.net]

        • Because that will take time, and replacing enough noisy vehicles with quieter ones will take a very long time, and in the meantime everyone affected will continue to suffer growing noise levels.

          This way, the governments help the citizenry in the short term, while others (academia and/or r&d depts of companies) can deal with the longer term. This work is complementary to that one - neither can replace the other.
    • As other replies have already stated, their measures have been shown accurate... but consider this...

      The rest of the noise at any part is likely related to the amount of traffic at that spot. So, Times Square is louder than some random road in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska. Since this is a mathematical equation, it's plausible the equation is designed to estimate a little higher than just the sound of traffic, so that any other sounds are included as a dependant variable on the amount of traffic.
      -N
  • by sirReal.83. (671912) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:51AM (#7659061) Homepage
    The noise maps will allow planning to insulate the public from noise by directing traffic away from residential areas and making funds available to sound-proof thin walled homes.

    I can't even get my landlord to shovel the 3 feet of snow in front of my apartment building.

  • by fastdecade (179638) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:53AM (#7659071)
    About time noise pollution was taken seriously. But I'd question the solution...Instead of just diverting traffic, hopefully they look at reducing noisy types of transport and encouraging more quiet forms ---- e.g. light rail, bikes.
    • by scorilo (654174) <zam0lx1s@yahoo. c o m> on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:59AM (#7659105) Homepage
      Most European countries are already doing this. There are lanes on the roads specially designated for bycicles, they even have special lights and special signs for bycicles. Some municipalities (Geneve, Wien, etc.) provide free bycicles (you only have to leave a deposit, which is returned when you bring it back) and you can rent a bycicle in nearly all train station (and almost every city has one), and trains have special compartments so that you can travel with your bycicle. Public transportation is usually subsidized, and they pay much more for gasoline then in North America. Paris has a rollerblade marathon (its reply to Pamplona, maybe?). It's really kewl, I nearly destroyed my rental rollerblades!
    • by lovebyte (81275) * <lovebyte2000 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:12AM (#7659180) Homepage
      BIKES? I guess you do not mean motorbikes. Because of the increase in congestion in and around Paris, there are more and more people that use motorbikes/scooters. The result is a big increase in noise levels, no reduction in polution (bikes produce more polution than most cars, surprisingly) and a large increase in fatal accidents.
      • Because of the increase in congestion in and around Paris, there are more and more people that use motorbikes/scooters. The result is ... a large increase in fatal accidents.
        I'm not surprised. When I visited a couple years ago the motorcycles seemed to be completely unrestricted, weaving in and around cars, butting to the front of the line at traffic lights, and completely disregarding lane lines and general traffic ettiquette.
    • by gnu-generation-one (717590) on Monday December 08, 2003 @03:37PM (#7661583) Homepage
      "About time noise pollution was taken seriously. But I'd question the solution...Instead of just diverting traffic, hopefully they look at reducing noisy types of transport and encouraging more quiet forms ---- e.g. light rail, bikes."

      In case anyone didn't hear about it, they introduced a "congestion charge" for driving into and around London, which has slashed the amount of traffic in the capital, and made it a much nicer, quieter place.

      So yes, they have done something towards solving the source problem. Now if only the British people could get over their attitude of "anyone who doesn't own a car is a loser", they we might just get somewhere with the rest of the country.

      As to spending money on measuring the noise throughout the land, think back to optimising code? Of course you spend the most money on benchmarking. Otherwise you waste a lot more money solving an irrelevant problem. So yeah, make the noise map first.

  • Noise in America (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nadsat (652200) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:53AM (#7659073) Homepage
    I don't think America worried about this as much, as there was always more land, more space, more suburban sprawl. In European areas where land has turned more of a scarcity, then we see this interesting phenonom as a solution. Perhaps the same principals will be applied to more congested American cities too. It seems a good, bottom-up approach: re-routing traffic light signals and road development based upon environmental feedback.
    • You should come and see the urban sprawl here in Finland :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:56AM (#7659092)
    Does this model take into account the guy two floors down in our apartment block who practices his drumming skills on Saturday and Sunday afternoons?
  • 1 decibel what? A decibel is not a unit. It's a ratio. A power ratio to be exact. 1 dB SPL?
    • Well, it's nice for me to define an error margin with a ratio.

      1dB = (10^0.1)*100 % error margin, (if i'm not mistaken) : exactly same meaning, sounds alright.

    • Re:1 decibel what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by lcsjk (143581) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:12AM (#7659564)
      Sound intensity is measured in db just like electrical power. The zero db level (Io) is defined as the threshold of human hearing for a 1000Hz tone, 10 ^(-16) watts per square centimeter.


      Measured intensity is 10log(Inew/Io). However, the article said the calculated levels were accurate to within 1 db(average). That means the difference between calculated and measured was 1 db regardless of the actual level. Now, since the average was accurate within 1 db, that could mean 4 at 1/2 db difference and 1 at 3db difference for engineers. (.5+.5+.5+.5+3)/5=1


      For politicians, it could mean that one was +42 and one was -38 for an average of (+48 -32)/2=1.
      Beware of statistics.

    • Re:1 decibel what? (Score:3, Informative)

      by imsabbel (611519)
      A decibell IS a unit.
      Its not only 1/10 of the log10(x), but 1/10*log10(x/10^-12 w/m^2).
  • by orthogonal (588627) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:07AM (#7659158) Journal
    As placing microphones on every building in London or Paris to measure noise was not practical

    The Bush administration today announced strong support for the reduction of noise pollution in America. Environmental organizations, keenly aware of the administration's poor record on pollution, expressed shock at this surprise move.

    Making the announcement for the administration were Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and (retired) Admiral John Poindexter. Attorney General Ashcroft explained that the Justice Department would generously fund a pilot project to monitor noise pollution in major urban areas known to harbor dissidents and Democrats. Ashcroft proclaimed that "Everyone, and especially the less-loyal elements in America, have a right to be free of the noise pollution caused by anti-war and anti-World Bank protestors, non-Christians, and really, anyone else who questions authority."

  • Paris Noise (Score:5, Informative)

    by lovebyte (81275) * <lovebyte2000 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:07AM (#7659159) Homepage
    For those living in Paris or wanting to move there, there is a noise map available here [paris.fr].
    I live in the noisiest part! Time to move to the country.
  • by Savatte (111615) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:14AM (#7659198) Homepage Journal
    I hope they take into account the noise levels from different seasons. For instance, around where I live, summer and fall are much louder, simply because of the massive amounts of non-stop construction. And I can personally attest that you can hear a jackhammer from farther away than you can hear a police siren.
  • WHAT? HUH? (Score:3, Funny)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:16AM (#7659202) Homepage Journal
    SPEAK UP, WILL YOU???
  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:24AM (#7659263) Homepage
    As placing microphones on every building in London or Paris to measure noise was not practical, data on the amount of traffic carried by roads and the noise levels was fed into computers to generate a model of noise levels across the city

    And an introductory remote sensing/GIS class would tell you that unless you have a Big Laser In Space(tm) you just take sample in accessible places that reflect both the landscape in general and prominent landscape features after that it is all overlay functions, baby. I am kriging as we speak!
  • As placing microphones on every building in London or Paris to measure noise was not practical, data on the amount of traffic carried by roads and the noise levels was fed into computers to generate a model of noise levels across the city.

    Translation: Echelon did not co-operate so they had to get background noise from people's cell phones from their own telcos which incedently gave them great traffic data.

  • a specific example (Score:5, Interesting)

    by selderrr (523988) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:33AM (#7659313) Journal
    of how complex these issues are, is the national airport in Brussels-Belgium : being such a densely populated country, there's no practical way to have airplanes land & take off without flying over housing areas. And with both traffic and houses increasing, the problem has now reached proportions where people are starting lawsuits against the govt for noise terrorism. Some have dozens of planes flying over at low altitude per night. That's a plane every 10 minutes. You try to sleep with that. Even tripple-isolated glass & roofs can't stop the sound of a cargo airplane. Especially old, russian planes (who have now been ruled illegal for flight)

    Allthough, personally i would find the noise the least of my worries : my mother in law lives near another airport (Oostende) After those huge, bulky cargo planes took off, there's a very intense kerosene odor that hangs in the streets for 15-30 minutes, depending on the weather. Yikes !

    I don't understand how peeps in Singapore survive this (well.. i gues they don't...)
  • I mean, not that I wouldn't be interested in such an investment myself, but should France get some air conditioning [cnn.com] for their elderly first? Who sets the priorities for expenditures in the E.U. anyway?
  • Microphones? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:57AM (#7659458) Homepage
    Why microphones? Why not a decibel meter? Surely that's the proper tool. Ubiquitous microphones sounds like the seed of yet another Orwellian nightmare.
    • I agree on this. Why do I feel kind of warm thinking about that many microphones sitting around the city recording every sound (your conversations too) Sorry, I feel kind of paranoid about it. dbMeters are fine, microphones no.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem with traffic noise, I would maintain, is not its absolute level (up to a limit of course), but rather the relative difference between minima and maxima.

    Example. I would rather live in a tower block looking onto the bvd Peripherique in Paris than in a street-facing apartment in the 5e. Why? Because the sound of traffic on the periph. is fairly constant, whereas if you live in what is generally a quiet street, the sound of some fsking teenager zooming past on a scooter with a tin-can for a silen
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:22AM (#7659630) Homepage Journal
    a large portion of 'traffic noise' is due to bad road surfaces.

    So, rather than annoying drivers by making them go a longer way round (and therefore increasing congestion and pollution) mending the roads would be a better solution.

    Here are some statistics from the Hong Kong govt who are already doing this:
    http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environme ntinhk/ noise/data/road_surface.html
    • a large portion of 'traffic noise' is due to bad road surfaces...mending the roads would be a better solution

      I'm with you. There are some highway surfaces that are miserable to drive on. I've been cruising on the interstate and come to a newer, much quieter section, and only then realized how incredibly loud the road noise was; my ears ring afterwards. Can't be good for you.
  • I'm curious about all the posts stating that the US should help sound insulate houses too. If you live in a house near any of the many major aiports in the US, it is likely that you are living in a home that has been sound insulated, with the bill being picked up by federal and state governments. I currently live in one (renting) and it's amazing the difference it makes.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:47AM (#7659793)
    Incidently, the study will find that the level of noise pollution increased significantly when Cmdr Taco visited London and ate beans and toast. This visit also coincides with the highest level of the greenhouse gas, methane, over the city.
  • Why is it that the first thing I thought of was nation-wide audio surveilance network? Maybe that's because I was paging through a copy of Futureland [amazon.com]... It starts small, but once you have a noise recording network, maybe you can record the audio amplitude spike of a gunshot, and dispatch police to the "crime" . Right now, it's only "10 to 15 computers ... are at work", but once the infrastructure is in place, who's to say they can't re-purpose the system in the future? Right now, its just average amplit
  • by misterpies (632880) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:52AM (#7659832)

    Decibels are a logarithmic scale: an increase of 1 decibel actually corresponds to a 30% increase in noise levels.

    Actually I'm surprised it's even that accurate. Traffic levels only get you so far -- the urban environment (architecture, trees) is also extremely important. Under my apartmenet block there's a raised arcade that basically serves as a resonator, making traffic sound louder.
  • Big deal (Score:3, Funny)

    by DirtyJ (576100) on Monday December 08, 2003 @12:01PM (#7659886)
    I began my nose-mapping effort years ago.

    Oh wait... nevermind.

  • All for it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sbadelt (730807) on Monday December 08, 2003 @12:12PM (#7659988)
    Personally, I get annoyed by the sound of a Honda Civic with an open-throat muffler and the constant hammering of Harley's. I'd love to see some enforcement of reasonable noise pollution violations... not just a random smathering of acoustic foam.
  • by Fjord (99230) on Monday December 08, 2003 @12:41PM (#7660204) Homepage Journal
    Noise is not just a nuisance, it's a health issue. And victims are often least able to afford quieter surrounds.

    A WHO report estimated that 40 percent of EU residents -- 150 million people -- are exposed to road traffic noise exceeding 55 decibels and that over 30 percent suffer noise levels at night that disturb sleep.


    I understand that these people can't afford sound proofing, but are earplugs really that far out of reach for them? If my sleep was disturbed by cars outside, I would buy some.

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