Sony Computer Science Laboratory’s (Paris) NoiseTube.net project aims to investigate how the general public uses their GPS-enabled mobile phones to participate in noise pollution monitoring.

Mobile phones are used as noise sensor devices, effectively creating a network of human sensors that can be used to inform urban dwellers about their personal noise pollution exposure.

Users are able to tag the quantitative data collected through their phone with qualitative data including information such as the activities that were taking place nearby and their feelings about the noise.

This geolocalised information will then be used to create real-time map-based visualisations of noise pollution.

NoiseTube has been created in the spirit of open participation and collaboration.

Its code is open source and its developers encourage feedback and new feature requests.

Instructions on how to participate in the project, which starts in Nov/Dec 2008, have been strategically placed on Instructables, effectively taking advantage of the site’s active community of interest and its radiating online social networks for distribution.

The project aims to generate findings that will be useful to citizens and their community, local government, urban planners, researchers and application developers, essentially creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

NoiseTube is representative of an emerging genre of research projects that can be described as “participatory urbanism” or “citizen science” (Paulos 2009).

Another notable project in this genre is Cityware (Kostakos and O’Neill 2009).

I discuss a set of design requirements for these emerging form of research tools in my OZCHI 2008 paper “Designing social tools for the bees, the buzz and the beehive” (Button 2008).

This paper aims to generate discussion in regard to a design intervention that can not only facilitate the collection, visualisation and analysis of data for researchers, but also promote social connectivity among diverse urban residents.

Many questions remain to be answered about these exciting developments.

For example:

•    How can we motivate diverse participants?
•    How can we overcome public concerns in relation to privacy and surveillance?
•    How can such a system be designed to be socially inclusive in a highly diverse urban environment?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts…

References

Button, A. 2008. Designing social tools for the bees, the buzz and the beehive. In: Australasian
Computer-Human Interaction Conference 2008, 8-12 December 2008. Cairns, Queensland, Australia: James Cook University.

Kostakos, V. and E. O’Neill. 2009. Cityware: Urban computing to bridge online and real-world
social networks. In Handbook of research on urban informatics: The practice and promise of the real-time city, ed. M. Foth, 196-205. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, Information Science Reference.

Paulos, E. 2009. Citizen science: Enabling participatory urbanism. In Handbook of research on
urban informatics: The practice and promise of the real-time city, ed. M. Foth, 414-436.
Hershey, PA: IGI Global, Information Science Reference.

Posted By:  Angela Button

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