From the pleasant crunch of gravel under your feet to traffic of a nearby highway, noise is all around us. At high levels, this noise can even reach dangerous levels that can lead to health problems. If we could quantify the noise around us, we could understand how prevalent it is in our lives, what neighborhoods suffer from the worst noise pollution, and what we can do about it.
But sometimes, gathering a large amount of data is difficult for a small group of researchers to do alone. Enter crowdsensing. Crowdsensing utilizes large amounts of people to take snippets of data from their own lives. Then, once put together, it could lead to powerful insights into an extremely large data set.
Today on the podcast I talk to Julia Buwaya. Julia is a mobile crowdsesning researcher and a digital fellow at University of Geneva. She uses a smartphone app to take data from the crowd on the noise levels of San Francisco and Geneva. We talk about noise, citizen science, and the challenges involved in obtaining data from a large and sometimes unknown group of people. One of the results is a decibel map that city planners or health care professionals can use to understand the noise in our lives.