NoiseBay App

Tracking Noise in the Bay Area with UNIGE

The University of Geneva and swissnex San Francisco are inviting citizens and visitors to the Bay Area to help us build a map of the city’s noise levels. San Francisco’s sound terrain is as diverse as its geography: for every park and quiet hill, there’s a neighborhood with a seemingly non-stop din of construction or traffic. The first step in reducing these aural disturbances is in knowing where the loudest neighborhoods actually are.

To help, we’re asking volunteers to collect anonymous data with a free Android NoiseBay app. The NoiseBay app uses your microphone, but doesn’t record sound. It only records only information about the volume of those sounds. Conversations are completely private, and users choose when to activate the app, and when to turn it off.

By collecting this data from multiple volunteers, we’ll create an openly accessible snapshot of the San Francisco soundscape for the public to use for any project. Meanwhile, Julia Buwaya, from the University of Geneva’s research team at swissnex SF, will track the results to learn how to best collect this kind of “crowdsensed” data in the future. 

Volunteers are sought to collect and transmit data by May 17. We’re offering a raffle prize of $200 for those who download the app and attend the May 18 SciComm Studio event. The app, which runs on Android phones, is available for download from the University of Geneva website, alongside more details about the project.