Concurrently with The Boston Neighborhood Noise Survey, I am monitoring at a number of areas in each of Boston’s 22 neighborhoods. You name the area, me and my mobile noise monitoring station (a bike, backpack, and monitor) have been there.
One of the best things about getting out into the city and monitoring is the interactions with residents. At first, I’m a suspicious stranger, lurking near their homes with this instrument with a microphone. Without fail, at least one person usually comes over to ask what I am doing. I’ll have to shush them because the meter is recording. They look at my hat and then one of the many signs announcing the reason for my presence. Once they realize that I am actually monitoring noise, they often end up waiting for the session to finish so that they can unload on me about how just how loud their neighborhood is.
Each neighborhood leads to many different tales. In the North End, it’s the pick-up and delivery trucks, in Hyde Park, it’s the Saturday cookouts. In Dorchester, it’s I-93. In East Boston, it’s those damn airplanes. However, the unspoken consensus always has been that they just have to deal.
Noise, defined as unwanted sound, carries with it a few assumptions—that it is the price we have to pay as we move towards a more technologically advanced society; that noise is only a nuisance that does not carry with it significant adverse health effects; that whatever noise you experience you will get used to it over time. The purpose of my research is to CHALLENGE these assumptions!
Noiseandthecity.org is the home of the Boston Neighborhood Noise Survey. I also plan to update it with my research and the research of others who, too, have dedicated their lives to community noise and health.