Friday, 11 December 2009

Quiet Areas Pilot Study

Bristol City Council are working with DEFRA to identify the quiet areas in the city. We already have some information on this from the citizenscape project, and that's partly why we have been asked to contribute. The data from bristolstreets will be used alongside other GIS data and qualitative information on open space quality to identify those places in the city where "quietness" is an important characteristic of the area. We will consult with internal and external stakeholders and then submit a list of potential quiet areas to DEFRA. An important part of the project is to help to shape guidance on the role of local authorities in the identification and management of quiet areas.

Monday, 7 December 2009

TED Talks - how sound affects our lives

A great short video on the ways in which sound affects our lives. Traffic noise is one of the first types of noise mentioned, and the use of sound samples throughout the video really emphasises the point that sound affects us more than we realise.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Noise Press Release

This was picked up by Heart FM and was run as their main story. Also appeared in the Evening Post yesterday. Our original release is below.

++ Shout about traffic noise ++

45% of people in Bristol are bothered by traffic noise in the city, according to the Quality of Life Survey carried out by the city council.

A noise action plan will shortly be written for the city by DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) in partnership with the council to address the noise hot spots and protect the quiet places where people can get away from traffic noise*. To help shape the plan, the city council is asking for local residents to give their views on traffic noise in Bristol.

The council has launched a consultation website at www.askbristol.com/noise, where residents, workers and visitors can:
-plot their favourite quiet areas on an online map
-give their views in the online discussion
-watch videos and vox pops to see what other people think
-find out more by reading the noise blog

The project is being headed up by Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, Cllr Jon Rogers, who has recorded his own video for the website. Traffic noise is a worrying problem for nearly half the population in Bristol and we are determined to do everything we can to deal with it. We are lucky in that we have lots of green space and we need to ensure this is protected for the future.

This consultation exercise is a real opportunity for people to have an influence on their local area and help make Bristol as quiet, clean and stress-free as possible. We want everyone to log onto this website and have their say.

The consultation website is already up and running and will close 31st December 2009. The findings will be reported back to DEFRA and will feed into DEFRAs current consultation on the Noise Action Planning process. This lasts until Christmas 2009 and the Noise Action Plan for Bristol will be published in 2010.

ENDS

* The hot spots are shown in a map recently published by DEFRA: http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/noise-action-plan/pdf/bristol-agglomeration.pdf

Cllr Rogers video can be seen by clicking on the link on www/askbristol.com/noise or going to www.youtube.com/bristolcitycouncil.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Councillor Rogers on traffic noise

Here's the video of Cllr. Jon Rogers talking about traffic noise in Bristol and the council's efforts to tackle it.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Noise and Health Conference - November 11th

I am speaking at a conference in Cardiff on 11th November about noise and health. Some very notable speakers there including Bernard Berry, Bob Maynard and Wolfgang Babisch. I will be outlining some of the work done in Bristol on traffic noise management including the citizenscape project, SILENCE and the current quiet areas pilot study. My presentation is below, and I also hope to show the video we shot of Jon Rogers talking about noise and health.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Filming with Councillor Jon Rogers


On a wet Tuesday afternoon we set out with Councillor Jon Rogers to film a short piece about traffic noise and quiet places in Bristol City Centre. Councillor Rogers is the Executive Member for Transport and Sustainability and is also a GP in Bristol. I wrote a short script for him and we filmed in two locations, the centre, and by Bristol Cathedral.
Jon did a number of takes and seemed quite confident in front of the camera. The video will be used to promote our consultation on traffic noise and I'm also hoping to use it in a talk I'll be doing at a conference on noise and health in Wales during November. The script is below, although Councillor Rogers ad - libbed it quite a bit!

Hi, I'm Jon Rogers, the ward councillor for Ashley and executive member for transport and sustainability. I'm also a GP and so I'm aware of the negative effects of stress on people's health. Exposure to noise is now recognised as a source of significant stress and that's why I'm backing efforts in Bristol to tackle traffic noise. 45% of people in Bristol report being annoyed by traffic noise and I think that's a worrying figure.


A noise action plan is being developed for the city to address the noise hot spots and also to protect the quiet places where people can get away from the noise and stress of modern city life. Bristol's lucky to have lots of green space and we're asking you to nominate your favourite quiet place using our unique interactive map - the link will appear at the end of the video. This is part of a consultation we've been running on traffic noise since January and it's really important, as it'll shape the noise action plan.


So far lots of people have expressed concern for traffic noise and support for action, including traffic management, quiet surfaces and lower speed limits. Thank you to everyone who has contributed views so far. We're looking forward to hearing from you about what you think about traffic noise in Bristol.


We're committed to openness and giving people a genuine opportunity to influence their local area, and I want to ensure that Bristol is as quiet, clean and stress - free as possible for everyone, so please use the links at the end of the video to have your say on traffic noise.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Tranquil Spaces Conference 9th October 2009

The GLA is organising a conference on 'Tranquil Spaces' on Friday 9th October at London Zoo, aimed at planners and open space professionals and managers, as well as noise professionals.
It includes practical application of recent research on tranquillity and soundscapes and support identifying Quiet Areas under the Environmental Noise Directive.
I will be presenting our work on Citizenscape and some aspects of SILENCE. There's a prestigious list of speakers (and me) including the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. It promises to be an important and interesting event.
My presentation is shown below.

Bruitparif Newsletter


Some colleagues on a former project (SILENCE) have published their newsletter. They are a consultancy based in France and have produced the noise map for Ile De France (Paris region). They are doing lots of interesting work on noise, particularly with schools. Have a look at their newsletter for more details.

John Connell Awards - notification of results

Unfortunately we weren't successful...

John Connell Local Authority Awards 2009
Thank you very much for Bristol's submission concerning the
Citizenscape project for this year’s John Connell Award.
Unfortunately your submission has not made the final shortlist.

The Trustees and I are really appreciative of your efforts and the
work involved in formulating your submission. The standard of entries
was extremely high which demonstrates the value and range of
activities carried out by Environmental Health Teams all over the
country.

The judges really did have difficult choices to make and we would love
to feature your work as a Case Study on our new website which will be
launched shortly. We applaud your efforts and want to make sure you
are duly recognised and promoted.

We do hope that you will consider making a further submission for the
John Connell Local Authority Awards in 2010 and will be in contact
early next year with details.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

John Connell award submission


I have today submitted our work on the noise consultation to the Noise Abatement Society for consideration for their annual John Connell award for local authorities action on noise. The final text of the submission is here. The awards will be given at the house of commons, so if we’re successful it should be some good publicity for the project. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Low noise road resurfacing

An interesting article in this months briefing from EPUK about unexpectedly high reductions in noise when a road in Uxbridge was resurfaced with a low - noise asphalt. The textured thin asphalt is approved by the Highways Authorities Product Approval Scheme and is stated to reduce noise by around 5.5 dB(A). When before and after measurements were done by the local authority (London Borough of Hillingdon) they found that the noise reduction was in fact closer to 7 dB(A). No firm explanation for this has been proved, but it may be that the road condition prior to surfacing was worse than in test conditions. The study shows the benefits of resurfacing with a low noise material, but it is only cost - effective if the road is to be resurfaced for wear reasons.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Bristol to pilot Quiet Areas

DEFRA has selected Bristol as a pilot city to trial the identification and management of quiet areas. This is mainly because of the work we have done so far on consulting on quiet areas using the bristolstreets map and AskBristol website. We have also developed a wide range of internal contacts and working arrangements through our existing work on noise and air quality. A meeting is scheduled for 22nd October where we will look at the issue of how to identify "quiet areas" in the city with a range of internal stakeholders. DEFRA are currently undertaking a consultation on Noise Action Planning with sessions being run by EPUK.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Environmental Noise Leaflets

Environmental Protection UK have produced a series of information leaflets, sponsored by Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government, setting out the noise mapping and action planning process, and outlining the mechanisms available for managing transport noise.

The Environmental Noise Directive very clearly states that noise mapping and action planning should be actively and openly communicated; that noise action planning should be an inclusive process; and that public awareness of environmental noise impacts should be raised.

The Directive sets out to fufill the Community policy "to achieve a high level of health and environmental protection, and one of the objectives to be pursued is protection against noise."

The leaflets are aimed at supporting work at local level in developing noise action plans and communicating transport noise issues to the public, professionals and politicians - who need to be engaged if noise considerations are to be embedded in transport and planning policy.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Healthy Walks Soundscapes activities

We will soon be supporting a healthy walks initiative in Bristol by providing activity sheets for walkers to help them to think about the quality of soundscapes they encounter during their walks. The idea is that they will use the bristolstreets and SaveOurSounds interactive maps to record their experiences and upload pictures and audio recordings.
The activity sheet explains how to record audio on mobile phones, as this is likely to be the most easily available method for most people. To try this out I took some field recordings with my Nokia XpressMusic mobile phone. The field recording was of a walk along the busy Brunel Way dual carriageway that crosses the Avon at Hotwells. This records audio in .amr format files, this is compressed audio format developed by Ericsson; used by many 3G cell phones for voice recordings such as MMS messages. It needs to be converted to MP3 for uploading to SaveOurSounds - the activity sheet describes this process.

The field recording can be heard below.










The healthy walk soundscape activity sheet (Draft) is below:

Activity Sheet

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The John Connell Awards

Bristol City Council has been invited to apply for the John Connell Awards by the Noise Abatement Society. These awards recognise Local Authorities, through their Environmental Health teams, who have made a significant contribution to the management of noise issues. Our draft submission is here and summarises our work on traffic noise issues including involvement in the SILENCE and Citizenscape projects.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Trying out the embedded MP3 audio player..

Here is an attempt to implement an embedded MP3 audio player using Flash on my blog. This will be useful for hosting more field recordings, such as the ones on the present sound of London blog.
The audio snippet below is the well - worn AudioTrail around CREATE







Monday, 20 July 2009

Bristol's Noise Priority Locations


DEFRA has released maps showing the areas identified as "priority locations" to be investigated due to problems from road noise. The maps use the DEFRA mapping produced under the requirements of the European directive on environmental noise to identify only those areas where the noise is above 76dB. The relevant table in the "supporting data" document shows that approximately 600 people in 300 dwellings fall within these locations.
The Bristol map highlights some areas which intuitively feel correct - the M32 North and South of Junction 2 for example. Other locations are more surprising, for example Blackboy Hill and the South end of Winterstoke Road. Information on the noise mapping approach and input data used for noise mapping in Bristol has not been made available so it is not possible to see why the levels are so high in these areas. There are some very small locations, for example the junction of Wells Road with Airport Road. It's instructive to contrast this approach with that used for Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) where the Local Authority creates a map showing where the air quality objectives are not being met - this is called the Air Quality Management Area. The approach adopted for traffic noise management in the UK is more centralised than that used for LAQM.
DEFRA lists the potential measures which could be applied to these priority locations as follows:
  • Facade insulation
  • Noise barriers
  • Reduction at source (traffic management, resurfacing, road design)
It remains to be seen how these specific priority locations in Bristol will be tackled. The consultation on action plans for all 23 "Agglomerations" has just opened, although the actual action plans are not yet published, only a generic template for the action plans.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Save our Sounds and Audioboo


Two interesting website I have come across in the past few days.The first is Save Our Sounds from the BBC World Service. Its been set up to record and preserve audio records of our changing environment. I've had a go at uploading an MP3 recording of an audiotrail that I made and posted on this blog last year. It seemed to work well, though the site is really only set up for static recordings, not audiotrails. This approach enables digital engagement on noise issues by allowing people to easily build up an audio impression of an area through field recordings. It supplements the Bristolstreets map of quiet places and can convey a more accurate impression of the soundscape of an area than descriptive text alone. There's some really interesting sound clips on there, and it makes you aware that all too often the interesting and enjoyable sounds are being lost - drowned in traffic noise.

An enhancement on this is Audioboo - an offshoot of Vimeo. It enables field recordings by iPhone which can then be uploaded to the site with photos and geotagging information. Very swish - if you've got an iPhone...

Monday, 29 June 2009

Noise Management and Consultation

A brief presentation to Community Facilitators for the Citizenscape project.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Quality of Life in Cities



The European Environment Agency recently published its report: "Ensuring quality of life in Europe's towns and cities". As you might expect, there is quite a lot of focus on noise in this report. I have summarised and extracted the relevant section below, but please also refer to the online report.

Noise. an underestimated problem


European cities have become increasingly 'noisy'; not necessarily because the noisy places have become noisier, but rather because there are fewer quiet places left. People are affected by noise from traffic, leisure activities and the general neighbourhood at all hours of the day and night. Detailed data on noise in Europe are scanty; however, a general picture is given below.

Road traffic is the dominant source of exposure in major urban areas. The EU Thematic Strategy on the urban environment reports that exposure to continuous road traffic noise affected: . 160 million people in the EU.15 (40 % of the population) at an 'averaged' level above 55 dB(A) . associated with significant annoyance; . 80 million people (20 % of the population) were exposed to continuous road traffic noise above 65 dB(A) . associated with cardiovascular effects.

In 2002 the European Commission introduced the Environmental Noise Directive relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. Exposure data are not currently available for all Member states. Data obtained in 2008 from a questionnaire sent out by the EUROCITIES Working Group on Noise to the network's cities show that about 57 % of the inhabitants of responding European cities are living in areas with noise levels above 55 dB, and approximately 9 % experience noise levels of above 65 dB (Figure 2.16). Extrapolations of these percentages all over Europe would suggest that more than 210 million people in Europe are exposed to levels above 55 dB and 38 million to levels above 65 dB.

Due to progressive growth in traffic levels and the general urbanisation of Europe the situation will worsen; particularly if measures at local, national and European levels are not put in place. As an example: the Randstad (area including Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) in the Netherlands is one of the most urbanised areas in Europe with consequent noise pollution across the whole area despite noise abatement measures previously implemented. Given this, one might assume that noise quality in other European cities is superior, which is not the case. Data show that noise is a serious problem in Europe. Persistent high levels of noise are associated with learning difficulties, loss of memory, inability to concentrate as well as irreversible damage to health, such as heart attacks and strokes. In the Netherlands, between 20 and 150 people every year suffer from heart attacks brought on by traffic noise. In Norway, the 'cost' of one extremely annoyed person has been estimated to be approximately EUR 1 600 per year. Due to the linearity, the 'cost' of a moderately annoyed person thus equals EUR 800 per year.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Road traffic noise perception map - update


The traffic noise perception map has recently been updated to combine the three years data from 2006 - 2008. This should give more reliable results as the sample size is larger. The approach used was similar to that used in previous years. The data was taken from the results of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Quality of Life survey in Bristol. The results from the noise question were coded such that a value of 100 was given to each response that road traffic was a “Serious Problem” and a value of 50 was given to a response where noise was considered a “Problem – but not serious”. This data was then summarised to average out the ratings for each postcode and then the postcodes were mapped using a GIS package. The values of the noise ratings then form a surface, similar to a map of terrain. The values reported from the survey are overlaid on a base map of the city.

The map is similar to the 2006 version in that it shows hotspots around the M5 in Avonmouth, the inner ring road and the M32 corridor. The Parson Street Gyratory and Brunel Way are highlighted and Bath Road also seems to be a problem.

It is interesting that the summary data seems to show that the proportion of people reporting road traffic noise as a problem fell significantly in 2008 from the 2006 and 2007 levels.






Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Mobile noise and ozone bluetooth web 2.0 mashups?


An interesting innovation is being trialled in Paris using mobile personal sensors for recording and transmitting noise and air quality parameters using bluetooth and mobile phones. Le Montre Verte is a project in Paris run by FING whereby the cyclists and walkers will transmit pollution data to the internet using web 2.0 mashups.
Sensaris (the manufacturers of the sensors) claim that the low spatial resolution of air quality monitors is a barrier to public understanding of air pollution issues. I'm not sure I agree with this, and I think that efforts should be concentrated on control of air quality rather than measurement at smaller scales. However the noise application is very interesting and could allow for a low cost solution for validating noise maps or even creating noise maps from scratch. Of course these maps would probably not be suitable for statutory reporting but would provide useful information for those engaged in managing urban traffic noise.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Supporting Bristol's noise consultation and community engagement

An exciting opportunity to be a website community facilitator.

  • Get training
  • Learn new skills.
  • Work around other commitments
  • Build confidence
  • Add to your C.V

Do you have an interest in the environment and things that affect your local area?
Would you like to learn more about having your say on online forums?
Do you like to talk with friends about things that are happening in Bristol that affect you?

We are looking for four community facilitators, who will keep an eye on what people are saying on an online discussion forum and promote discussion.

www.askbristol.com is a council website which promotes discussion about issues that affect people living in Bristol, so these views can be passed on to people making the decisions.

Past discussions have included cycling, excessive drinking, the council's budget, and recycling to name a few. Go to http://www.youtube.com/bristolcitycouncil to see videos of some of the things we have talked about in the past.

The website currently has a focus on traffic noise pollution, as part of a project to raise awareness, highlight problems and solutions, and encourage people to tell us about quiet areas where they enjoy spending time. Find out more here www.askbristol.com/noise

What is involved?
You will be employed for two hours per week for six months and paid £8.23 per hour through the City Jobshop. If you are claiming benefits you will need to declare this work so find out in advance if this will affect your benefits payments.

You will need to have access to a computer and internet connection at home, or be able to access the free computers at the library (which can be booked for up to two hours a day on week days) or anywhere else you know of where you can use a computer with internet. As well as work on the Internet, you will spread the word about the website by chatting to people you know and any groups you are part of, and by distributing leaflets.

For further information please contact: Makala Cheung at Knowle West Media Centre email makala@kwmc.org.uk or telephone 0117 3532895

Closing date Friday 29th May 2009

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Bristol Hum...


According to the Evening Post the Bristol Hum mystery has been solved.. It's either in your imagination, or something is causing it (no seriously).
Anyway the academic who has studied this does make an interesting point about the variable psychological response to noise of people with different expectations of noise. This may explain to some extent why people who live very close to busy roads don't appear to be bothered by the noise. However there is now good evidence that shows that even people habituated to high noise levels do have a physiological response to noise, resulting in high blood pressure and possible eventual cardio-vascular illness. This appears to happen even when people are asleep and so are not conscious of the noise.
Regardless of whether the "Bristol Hum" is a real or imagined phenomenon, there is no doubt that citizens are being exposed to noise levels from traffic which could be damaging their health.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

"A stench in the ear?"


I bought an interesting book in the "Beware the leopard" bookshop in Bristol on the weekend called "The Assaults on Our Senses" by John Barr. Published in 1970 it documents the range of urban blights, most of which are still prevalent in our cities. Of particular note is the section on "Noise on the ground". Barr places a lot of emphasis on workplace noise, which has to some extent been tackled by health and safety legislation and specific acts to control industrial noise. He quotes Schopenhauer who said that noise was "an insolent defiance by those who work with their hands of those who work with their brains"(!). Schopenhauer recommended public whipping for carters who needlessly cracked their whips!
On the subject of road traffic noise he cites an interesting timeline, beginning in a 1934 Ministry of Transport committee set up to measure and characterise noise. However progress on tackling noise stalled and it wasn't until the early sixties that the Wilson committee urged strict limits on vehicle noise. In 1968 the UK introduced roadside vehicle noise checks but these were strongly opposed by the police, who felt that traffic noise was not their primary concern.
The results of the Social Survey quoted in Barr's book reveal that 36% of londoners were annoyed by traffic noise while at home - this tallies well with the data from the EPUK Survey published yesterday which shows annoyance by 28% of respondents (from the UK as a whole). So it seems that the situation has not really improved since the publication of this book in 1970. Let's hope that DEFRA's action plans result in a real and sustained reduction in traffic noise in our towns and cities.

Monday, 18 May 2009

EPUK Road Traffic Noise Survey


An ICM poll conducted on behalf of the environmental pressure group EPUK shows that traffic noise causes annoyance for a third of people and that roughly 20% of people are woken up by traffic noise. What is even more interesting is that a vast majority of people believe that quiet places in cities should be protected. This could be enabled by the draft "template" action plans for noise that DEFRA unveiled a few weeks ago, which seem to include a substantial role for local authorities in the identification and protection of quiet areas.
The EPUK survey has been timed to coincide with the start of Noise Action Week, an annual event usually focussing on neighbourhood noise. Local authorities around the country are hosting a range of activities to raise awareness of noise and to tackle the causes of noise.
Residents in Bristol can have their say on transport noise through askbristol and can identify their favourite quiet space using Bristolstreets.co.uk.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Road Traffic Noise Survey: Bristol 2009


Bristol City Council are supporting a survey of residents on road traffic noise being conducted by a Masters student at the University of Derby. Matt Kirby is trying to find out how the orientation of houses and the location of the bedrooms in houses affect the annoyance of people who are exposed to different levels of noise. He is working with Bristol because of our ability to interrogate our noise map to identify the properties that fall within noise bands. The survey was distributed on the 1st April (no joke!) to residents around the M32 and also gives residents the opportunity to have their say on noise through the askbristol.com site. The results will be published in September.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Soundwalks - Part 2

The other video from the Soundwalks project is below - this one features a moving chart of the actual noise values, as well as an updating map showing the location of the recording.

video

Soundwalks in Bristol

One of the work packages in the SILENCE Project, in which Bristol was a partner, was the compilation of Soundwalks for each of the partner cities. The video below shows the soundwalk from Queens Square to the Centre.
The purpose of a Soundwalk is to...

"describe acoustic ambience in an overall way, without any judgment on what is heard."

To analyse the soundscape is to list all types of sound sources. A majority of them are motor vehicles: cars, city buses, small trucks,… but there are also a lot of varied and pleasant sound signals in the urban environment like birds, the wind in the leaves, fountains, children, bar terraces or walkers' footsteps on the gravel…

A full report on the approach and results of the soundscapes work package is on the SILENCE web site.



video

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Noise labelling for tyres

The European Parliament's industry committee have today voted to approve a scheme for labelling tyres so that consumers can clearly see the energy efficiency, safety and noise performance of tyres. The full article is on the EPUK Website.

While this is a welcome move, it remains to be seen how much influence noise labelling will have on consumer behaviour as most consumers will inevitably choose cost and safety in preference to noise. Additionally on March 12, MEP's decided to delay the introduction of quieter, more energy efficient tyres for up to 4 years, meaning that for the European fleet as a whole to have quieter, more energy efficient tyres it could take up to 14 years!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Noise Video - Scene 3

At last, our reporter finds some tranquility to finish his report - or does he?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Noise Video - Scene 2

The reporter gets even more exasperated in the second location when he's interrupted by passers by...

Noise video rough cuts

They're here! The videos that Artswork have done for us are brilliant. Lloyd showed all three to me just before the BBC Radio Bristol interview and I'm really impressed. Here's the first scene - second and third to follow..
video

BBC Bristol Interview



I'm being interviewed for BBC Radio Bristol this morning at 10:40 AM on the Graham Torrington show. The BBC picked up on the videos being made by Artswork and are also interviewing Lloyd Dunseith, who is running the filming project. I will be talking about the work we're doing in Bristol to tackle traffic noise and our work on Citizenscape. I'm a bit nervous, but hopefully well - prepared!

Update: The show can be listened to here. The interview starts at 1:40:38

Friday, 27 February 2009

Quieter tyres for cars


A political agreement has been reached in the EU to introduce quieter tyres for cars. Rolling resistance will also be improved, leading to better energy efficiency. However tyres for HGV's are largely unaffected, which means that noise levels by the busiest roads, like urban motorways, will continue to cause problems for residents living nearby them.
This decision has led to protests from environmental lobbying groups like Transport and Environment who argue that an opportunity has been missed to address the problems of traffic noise that are estimated to affect the health of 210 million Europeans.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Video Shoot Part 2

I spent yesterday out in Bristol with the Artswork students and colleagues from corporate consultation. The students were filming their three short viral films for promotion on the Citizenscape website and we were vox popping people on the street nearby.
We managed to get an interesting mix of people from young mums to dog walkers and local students. The day started near Arno's Court on the Bath Road where the traffic noise was pretty loud. The next location was on a traffic island at Three Lamps. The noise here is probably as high as anywhere in the city, with traffic from the A37 and A4 on either side. We vox - popped some lunchtime workers at Temple Quay, which was a much more sedate affair and then off to the peace and quiet of Victoria Park in Bedminster, although a grounds worker was using a chain saw quite close by!
I've put some photos from the day on my flickr site.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the videos the students produce, they were really enthusiastic and professional.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Video Shoot

The Artswork students will be shooting the promotional videos for the citizenscape website on the morning of 24th Feb. I've identified some possible locations for the videos as shown in the map below. BCC staff will be there vox - popping the public.

View Larger Map

Monday, 16 February 2009

Noise Research in Bristol


A Masters student at the Forest of Dean council is conducting some research in Bristol using our noise map. Matt Kirby is expanding on the work done by the Sustainable City Team at Bristol City Council to assess the relationship between the modelled noise levels, measured in Lden and the community annoyance. The work goes beyond the approach used in the Quality of Life survey to ask detailed information from residents at a selected number of properties from each noise band strata to establish the severity of annoyance and identify the relative importance of acoustic and non acoustic factors.
The properties were identified using the road noise map and the noise level at each property was calculated using GIS techniques. Bristol's Land and Property Gazetteer was then used to extract the addresses of the properties and the properties were then sorted into their noise bands, e.g. 50 - 55 dB(A).
Matt has submitted his proposal and is currently designing the questionnaire. This research will help Bristol City Council to understand the severity of the noise issue in one of the noisiest parts of the city (M32 environs) and inform the emerging noise strategy.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Artswork Commissioned for Citizenscape Video


Back in January, we commissioned Artswork media to make three short "viral" videos to go onto the Citizenscape website. The purpose of these videos is to engage people with the noise issue and to do this they need to be provocative, exciting and unusual. We agreed that short videos in rotation would be the best option. I had a meeting with the students, and their tutor, Nic Jeune to discuss some options. I was really impressed with the students' ideas and I expect some great output from this collaboration. It will certainly be more engaging than a video of me talking about traffic noise...

The Artswork media lab is part of Bath Spa University and located in the Paintworks estate just off Bath Road. It's a fantastic facility for digital media production (and very handy for Bocabar..).

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Bristol Streets Noise Map

Last week the "quiet places" layer of bristolstreets.co.uk went live. This incorporates the noise map - also available in a variety of different formats on the main Bristol CC website. Where it really adds value however is the ability to interact with the map by adding your own favourite quiet place - or a place which could be quiet if, for example, traffic were to be calmed. This will support our consultation work on Citizenscape by building a map of valued tranquil spaces and getting people to think about noise, and hopefully participate in the online discussions at AskBristol.

Screenshot of Bristolstreets


The map was developed by a local company - Logogriph Ltd.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Noise word cloud

Thanks to my colleague Antony for pointing me to http://www.wordle.net which creates a "Word Cloud" for any text you put into it. Here is the one for this blog..

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

zone of quiet


zone of quiet
Originally uploaded by serlingrod
Found this on Flickr - an unusual approach to trying to reduce noise in cities. In my view highly unlikely to work, given that road (safety) signs are regularly ignored. Still, it does at least indicate intent and raise awareness, much like the 20 mph signs to be introduced in Bristol in the next year or so.

There is some evidence from Austria that variable speed limit signs based on dynamically measured noise levels have a small effect on noise (1 - 2 dB reduction)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Citizenscape Project

I'll be blogging about the Citizenscape project as momentum on this builds over the next few months. Its an EU funded project which aims to increase democratic participation in South Bristol through Web 2.0 methods. Its focus is on.... Environmental Noise! Specifically the END. Its being run by the corporate consultation team and I am providing some technical support on noise.

The consultation on AskBristol went live last week and has received a few posts so far. We're working with Knowle West Media Centre to engage the community in South Bristol over the next few months. The outcomes will hopefully be greater participation in local democracy and a real influence over the forthcoming noise action plan for Bristol.