The implementation of low-cost urban acoustic monitoring devices

Charlie Mydlarz, Justin Salamon, Juan Pablo Bello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The urban sound environment of New York City (NYC) can be, amongst other things: loud, intrusive, exciting and dynamic. As indicated by the large majority of noise complaints registered with the NYC 311 information/complaints line, the urban sound environment has a profound effect on the quality of life of the city's inhabitants. To monitor and ultimately understand these sonic environments, a process of long-term acoustic measurement and analysis is required. The traditional method of environmental acoustic monitoring utilizes short term measurement periods using expensive equipment, setup and operated by experienced and costly personnel. In this paper a different approach is proposed to this application which implements a smart, low-cost, static, acoustic sensing device based around consumer hardware. These devices can be deployed in numerous and varied urban locations for long periods of time, allowing for the collection of longitudinal urban acoustic data. The varied environmental conditions of urban settings make for a challenge in gathering calibrated sound pressure level data for prospective stakeholders. This paper details the sensors’ design, development and potential future applications, with a focus on the calibration of the devices’ Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microphone in order to generate reliable decibel levels at the type/class 2 level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-218
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Acoustics
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Calibration
  • Cyber physical system
  • IEC 61672
  • MEMS
  • Microphone
  • Noise
  • Smart cities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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