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Environment-Smart Microphones Record Sounds of New York City to Make It Noiseless

Nov 11, 2016 04:00 AM EST

In an attempt to make New York City quieter, researchers at Ohio State University and New York University installed microphones outside two buildings on Thursday in Manhattan area.

The initiative named Sounds of New York City, or simply Sonyc, is a brainchild of researchers who are trying hard to cut down noise pollution within the city. Funded by the National Science Foundation Grant, the project, costing $4.6 million, will record the sounds in the city using a network of approximately 100 sensors in an around NYU's campus and then distribute them all throughout the city. These monitors will be taught to differentiate the normal street sounds from the regular cacophony like yelling and sirens. Following this, the team will use improved sensors to find out the time and place of occurrence of these nuisances and determine the degree of the noise. The gathered information will then be made available to users with the help of apps that will allow the public to report these nuisances.

According to The New York Times, the sensors will be trained to recognize the numerous "sonic irritants" that are known to plague the city. These include sounds from air conditioners, snow plows, garbage trucks and construction. Sonyc's main objective is to create an aural map that can eventually assist the city in tracking noise pollution and controlling it besides empowering residents to be a part of the project. Each machine costs $100 and consists of a tiny computer and Wi-Fi antenna that is linked to a custom microphone kept inside a foam wind guard of 10 inches long.

The effects of noise pollution include loss of hearing, cognitive impairment in kids, disrupted sleep, and other illnesses.  A recent study claimed that 10 percent of New York City adults are exposed to high levels of noise pollution, which is considered dangerous by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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