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Technology for a Quieter America (2010)

Chapter: Appendix B: International Activities Relative to Quiet Areas

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: International Activities Relative to Quiet Areas." National Academy of Engineering. 2010. Technology for a Quieter America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12928.
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Appendix B
International Activities Relative to Quiet Areas

The soundscape, as defined in Wikipedia, is a sound (or combination of sounds) that forms or arises from an immersive environment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundscape). Some dimensions of the soundscape can be quantified, and others cannot. In Chapters 2 and 3, U.S. activities related to noise in quiet areas is described. This appendix describes two international efforts to describe preferences and tranquility in quiet areas.

COUNTRYSIDE PREFERENCES IN HONG KONG

A recent study was done in Hong Kong of human preferences in countryside soundscapes. Based on questionnaires, interviews, and recordings taken during interviews (Lam et al., 2008), there was a clear preference for countryside sound sources; natural sounds were preferable to man-made sounds. The order of preference was found to be:

  • running water

  • bird

  • wave

  • waterfall

  • wind

  • insect

  • other animals

  • human

  • road traffic

Aircraft noise is not listed, perhaps because the Hong Kong airport is on Lantau Island, not Hong Kong Island.

The sound recordings were also analyzed according to A-weighted levels and sound quality metrics, but no strong correlation between preference and acoustical quantities was found. This does not mean that acoustical quantities are unimportant; it may mean that the appropriate metric for these quantities has not been found. The authors conclude:

In summary, the study of countryside soundscapes in Hong Kong shows that the sound pressure level and other acoustical and sound quality parameters are not good indicators of soundscape preference. The presence or absence of natural and man-made sounds is a more important determinant of human preference for countryside soundscapes.

TRANQUILITY IN ENGLAND

In the United Kingdom, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has done extensive work related to tranquility (CPRE, 1995). Tranquility—partly the landscape, partly the soundscape, and partly human experience—is a difficult concept to express in numerical terms. Nevertheless, the CPRE has developed a method based on the results of questionnaires and the identification of factors that contribute to tranquility. Although the algorithm used to determine the numerical value is not given on the Internet site, an attempt was made to assign a tranquility value for every 500 X 500 meter area of England. Maps are given on the Internet site, and sounds may be downloaded.

Based on surveys, the Internet site defines the 10 top factors that contribute and do not contribute to tranquility:


What tranquility is:

  1. Seeing a natural landscape

  2. Hearing a bird sing

  3. Having peace and quiet

  4. Seeing natural-looking woodland

  5. Seeing the stars at night

  6. Seeing streams

  7. Seeing the sea

  8. Hearing natural sounds

  9. Hearing wildlife

  10. Hearing running water

What tranquility is not:

  1. Hearing constant noise from cars, lorries, and/or motorbikes

  2. Seeing lots of people

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: International Activities Relative to Quiet Areas." National Academy of Engineering. 2010. Technology for a Quieter America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12928.
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  1. Seeing urban development

  2. Seeing overhead light pollution

  3. Hearing lots of people

  4. Seeing low-flying aircraft

  5. Hearing low-flying aircraft

  6. Seeing power lines

  7. Seeing towns and cities

  8. Seeing roads

CONCLUSIONS

A physical description of the soundscape is one input to the assessment of the human experience, even though it may be described as an overall good experience, as a preference, or as a tranquil environment. One has to distinguish clearly between man-made sounds and natural sounds in determining their acoustical impact in rural and naturally quiet areas. Amplitude and duration are also important. For example, a bubbling brook and waves crashing into the seacoast may, on average, be equally preferable, even though the amplitude of the latter is much greater than the amplitude of the former.

REFERENCES

CPRE, 1995. Tranquility. Campaign to Protect Rural England. Available online at http://www.cpre.org.uk/campaigns/landscape/tranquillity.

Lam, K-C., K-C. Chau, L.M. Marafa, and L. Brown. 2008. Human Preference for Countryside Soundscapes. Presentation at INTER-NOISE 2008, The 2008 International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering, Shanghai, China, October 26–29. Available online at http://scitation.aip.org/journals/doc/INCEDL-home/cp/.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: International Activities Relative to Quiet Areas." National Academy of Engineering. 2010. Technology for a Quieter America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12928.
×
Page 147
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: International Activities Relative to Quiet Areas." National Academy of Engineering. 2010. Technology for a Quieter America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12928.
×
Page 148
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Exposure to noise at home, at work, while traveling, and during leisure activities is a fact of life for all Americans. At times noise can be loud enough to damage hearing, and at lower levels it can disrupt normal living, affect sleep patterns, affect our ability to concentrate at work, interfere with outdoor recreational activities, and, in some cases, interfere with communications and even cause accidents. Clearly, exposure to excessive noise can affect our quality of life.

As the population of the United States and, indeed, the world increases and developing countries become more industrialized, problems of noise are likely to become more pervasive and lower the quality of life for everyone. Efforts to manage noise exposures, to design quieter buildings, products, equipment, and transportation vehicles, and to provide a regulatory environment that facilitates adequate, cost-effective, sustainable noise controls require our immediate attention.

Technology for a Quieter America looks at the most commonly identified sources of noise, how they are characterized, and efforts that have been made to reduce noise emissions and experiences. The book also reviews the standards and regulations that govern noise levels and the federal, state, and local agencies that regulate noise for the benefit, safety, and wellness of society at large. In addition, it presents the cost-benefit trade-offs between efforts to mitigate noise and the improvements they achieve, information sources available to the public on the dimensions of noise problems and their mitigation, and the need to educate professionals who can deal with these issues.

Noise emissions are an issue in industry, in communities, in buildings, and during leisure activities. As such, Technology for a Quieter America will appeal to a wide range of stakeholders: the engineering community; the public; government at the federal, state, and local levels; private industry; labor unions; and nonprofit organizations. Implementation of the recommendations in Technology for a Quieter America will result in reduction of the noise levels to which Americans are exposed and will improve the ability of American industry to compete in world markets paying increasing attention to the noise emissions of products.

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