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Listening to London – Foster + Partners

Listening to London – Foster + Partners

Location: Wandsworth, London

Listening to London distributed sound monitors throughout Wandsworth to capture soundscapes of the Borough. The device, built on a Raspberry Pi computer, reported on sound pressure levels across the frequency spectrum and visualised the data on a web-based interface, which is available to the public.

We partnered with Noise Abatement Society, London South Bank University and Wandsworth City Learning Centre for this experiment.

People are regularly exposed to noise in cities, but we often aren’t aware of the patterns and impact that exposure can have on our wellbeing and mental health. Many studies looking at noise pollution show a correlation with loss of sleep, stress and difficulties in attention. Gathering data from around the city over a prolonged period of time can help to identify these patterns.

Foster + Partners deployed sound monitoring sensors around Wandsworth to build a soundscape of the noise people are exposed to at a local level. The team hope that the data gathered will provide communities with greater awareness of their acoustic environment and inform policy and decision-makers of how the design of our urban spaces impacts our health.

The team’s original device relied on WiFi at the point of deployment and many of the devices suffered from intermittent connection. LoRa provided broad network access, so that the devices could be powered up anywhere and begin transmitting data.

  • The team were able to prove the concept of a zero-configuration device for monitoring and transmitting information.
  • LoRa demonstrated the ability to transmit data long distances in the urban environment.
  • The team received an enthusiastic response from local schools that sound monitoring is a useful initiative.
  • LoRa’s low bandwidth made it challenging for the team to gather the data they wanted.
  • A scarcity of hardware and an immaturity of available driver libraries required a lot of custom programming and systems design to provide basic functionality.
  • Transmitting broad spectrum acoustic data at frequent intervals is not an ideal use case for LoRa.

For more information, please contact press@fosterandpartners.com.

Learn more about the other Things Connected experiments.

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