Paris could use sound sensors to fight against noise pollution – Quartz

Paris has already taken steps to slow cars on the streets, as well as to remove them completely from the city center. He is now preparing to deploy sound sensing technology known as “Medusa” to silence them..

On October 12, the city council will vote on a new plan to combat noise pollution generated by motorcycles and other noisy vehicles. The devices, called “Medusa,” use a combination of four microphones and two cameras to map noise levels when sounds exceed a certain decibel level, like a motorcycle flashback or a revving engine. It triangulates the sound and, similar to a red light camera, uses CCTV to automatically take a picture of the license and fine the driver.

C. Mietlicki, F Mietlicki 2018

View of the “jellyfish” sensor developed by Bruitparif.

The technology is part of an ambitious multi-year plan, first reported (link in French) by the French newspaper Release, to fight against noise pollution in residential and industrial areas of the city. The Medusa, developed by the non-profit organization Bruitparif, were deployed for the first time in the Paris suburbs in 2019. From November, they will be installed in two districts of Paris as part of a three-month pilot program to test the technology in a real environment, but no threshold will be set and no fine will be imposed.

Similar technology has been used by police departments in American cities to determine the location of gunfire, but French cities have been pioneers in addressing noise as a traffic violation and health hazard. public. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has included reducing noise pollution in her 2020 re-election campaign. Noise pollution is a major problem in France after air pollution. A study (pdf) by Bruitparif found that in the Paris region, the health impacts of noise can cost an average 10 months of healthy life for a person, and a July 2021 study estimated that the social health costs resulting from the noise pollution – illness, hospitalization, lost years of work, could cost France 156 billion euros (181 billion US dollars) per year.

Noise pollution is an endemic urban problem

Paris is far from being the only place to deal with the impacts of noise pollution. Disturbing noises like the sound of an ambulance or a jackhammer against the sidewalk are an aspect of city life around the world. But it’s more than just a passing inconvenience; over time, repeated exposure to excessive noise can affect a person’s ability to concentrate and sleep, and cause psychological and cardiovascular damage.

A 2019 report from the European Environment Agency linked noise pollution to 12,000 premature deaths across the continent and found that one in five Europeans are regularly exposed to harmful noise levels.

Cities have tried to reduce noise pollution mainly through regulations and fines. New York City, for example, sets limits on when construction can be done. Most cities in the United States have broad noise ordinances against everything from vehicles to leaf blowers, but they are difficult to enforce unless citizens are complaining.

Other places have tried to specifically address vehicle noise by regulating vehicles and roads. The European Commission has set strict standards for manufacturers of noise-emitting vehicles, and in 2012 the Nordic Coalition undertook a study to determine how tire materials could make roads quieter. In the United States, transportation authorities in Texas and Arizona have experimented with new concretes that make driving quieter.

But the noise sensors offered by Paris are part of a larger strategy to reduce noise across the city that also includes municipal police enforcement. Separate measures, like reducing the speed limit to 30 kilometers per hour, should also help.

The vote on the comprehensive noise pollution plan is scheduled for October 12, after which there will be a two-month public comment period.

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