IMPRINtS - Internet and Mobile technologies for a Public Role In Noise Surveying

Lead Research Organisation: University of Salford
Department Name: Unlisted


Summary Soundscapes, like landscapes, have and important role in our lives. Just like a view from an office or bedroom window, a soundscape can help make us feel comfortable, productive and happy or make us feel uneasy and distracted. There will always be some noise in our environment, be it the rustle of leaves, humming PCs, noisy neighbours or the many other sounds we hear in our daily lives. Without soundscapes our lives would lack the contextual references that help contribute to the quality of our lives; though clearly there's fine line between welcome everyday bustle and noise nuisance. Getting the balance right is a challenge for planning, development and construction, and a challenge for how we as individuals choose to spend each day. Traditionally, professionals are used to measure and assess noise issues using expensive and dedicated equipment. It is the intention of this project to exploit mobile phones and computers to allow a large number of people to engage in noise measurement and assessment, and so give the public a more active role in how their soundscape is shaped. By giving the public the tools to enable them to make noise measurements, it is possible for upstream engagement to be carried out because the public can be more involved in the noise issues from the begining of, say, a development process. In corporation with SEPOINT Manchester, the technologies and procedures of the IMPRINtS project will be developed in schools by engaging students in Key Stage 4 activities relating to environmental science. Nowadays mobile phones can be quite a sophisticated sound sampling and analysing devices, and many people have access to PCs linked to the internet. The IMPRINtS project seeks to exploit these new technologies in a way that is both novel and capable of gathering an unprecedented amount of important environmental noise data. During the development, students will follow practical experiments that utilise IMPRINTs software on mobile phones alongside other sound recording devices to investigate their daily soundscape and their relationship with it. This stage will allow the formative evaluation of the software and website and so enable improvements to be made. Then, IMPRINtS will raise public awareness of soundscapes and our relationship to them by engaging people in a large national survey to measure and characterise the huge variety of soundscapes in Britain. A publicity campaign will be launched in the national media to get participants. Members of the public who come to the IMPRINtS web site will be able to download free software to install on their mobile phone and PCs. The software will allow participants to sample and analyse the variety of soundscapes that play an important role in their everyday lives. All IMPRINtS asks is that users make a series samples of different suggested soundscapes at some suggested times are upload to the IMPRINtS central server. IMPRINtS will ask, via some simple online questionnaires, about the participants own impressions of these soundscapes and the features of them that contribute or detract from the quality of their lives. The results of the national survey event will be published online and in the national media. Online material on issues of environment noise and also ways for the public to influence their environment e.g. via involvement with urban planning will be provided.


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Description This was a partners for public engagement project.

The project demonstrated the validity of using mobile devices in situ by members of the public to measure human responses to soundscapes. The work was able to corroborate findings with previously published research utilising more traditional methodologies. The project was also able to offer new insights into into the nature of the public's relationships with soundscapes.

ref... Mydlarz, C. A. (2013). Application of mobile and internet technologies for the investigation of human relationships with soundscapes (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Salford).

The large number of contributions from members of the public and the interest from press and media showed the enthusiasm of the general public to participate in science.
Exploitation Route The project is a case study for public enfranchised science using new mobile device and server technologies.

The research has the potential to inform urban planning to utilise sound scape design to improve quality of life.
Sectors Environment

Description Research work led directly to the completion of a PhD by the project RA Dr Charles Mydlarz. Mydlarz, C. A. (2013). Application of mobile and internet technologies for the investigation of human relationships with soundscapes (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Salford). The project had over 3000 contributions from the public worldwide and featured on the BBC's click on line as well as national news papers and national and local radio.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Impact Types Societal

Description SETPOINT Greater Manchester 
Organisation Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics Network
Department SETPOINT Greater Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
Start Year 2007