While loud noise has been found to be harmful, new research shows residents who live in the loudest NYC neighborhoods may be healthier than residents living in quieter nabes. According to a study by NYU Langone Medical Center, neighborhoods that called in the most noise complaints to 311 had residents with a lower body mass index and blood pressure (h/t Metro NY). While researchers do not believe the actual noise is behind the healthier numbers, the study points to an area’s walkability to be a contributing factor to the health of residents.
Researchers at New York University and Ohio State University are installing microphones at points throughout the city that will learn to recognize the pneumatic drills, bizarrely noisy Fresh Direct trucks and other street sounds that form our familiar daily cacophony. The recording devices use technology that was developed to identify migrating birds, the way the Shazam app records and identifies song snippets. The New York Times reports that the study will begin collecting 10-second bits of audio at random intervals, then begin labeling the urban din using UrbanEars, a machine-listening engine. The sensors are being trained to identify the many “sonic irritants” that plague city life, including the seasonal (snow plows, air conditioners) and the maddeningly ceaseless (garbage trucks, construction). The project, called Sounds of New York City (Sonyc) has the goal of creating an aural map that could help the city track and control noise pollution in addition to empowering residents to get involved.