A digital signal processor based acoustic sensor for outdoor noise monitoring in smart cities


Presently, large cities have significant problems with noise pollution due to human activity. Transportation, economic activities, and leisure activities have an important impact on noise pollution. Acoustic noise monitoring must be done with equipment of high quality. Thus, long-term noise monitoring is a high-cost activity for administrations. For this reason, new alternative technological solutions are being used to reduce the costs of measurement instruments. This article presents a design for a versatile electronic device to measure outdoor noise. This device has been designed according to the technical standards for this type of instrument, which impose strict requirements on both the design and the quality of the device’s measurements. This instrument has been designed under the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) concept, so the microphone–electronics set can be used as a sensor that can be connected to any microprocessor-based device, and therefore can be easily attached to a monitoring network. To validate the instrument’s design, the device has been tested following the regulations of the calibration laboratories for sound level meters (SLM). These tests allowed us to evaluate the behavior of the electronics and the microphone, obtaining different results for these two elements. The results show that the electronics and algorithms implemented fully fit within the requirements of type 1 noise measurement instruments. However, the use of an electret microphone reduces the technical features of the designed instrument, which can only fully fit the requirements of type 2 noise measurement instruments. This situation shows that the microphone is a key element in this kind of instrument and an important element in the overall price. To test the instrument’s quality and show how it can be used for monitoring noise in smart wireless acoustic sensor networks, the designed equipment was connected to a commercial microprocessor board and inserted into the infrastructure of an existing outdoor monitoring network. This allowed us to deploy a low-cost sub-network in the city of Málaga (Spain) to analyze the noise of conflict areas due to high levels of leisure noise. The results obtained with this equipment are also shown. It has been verified that this equipment meets the similar requirements to those obtained for type 2 instruments for measuring outdoor noise. The designed equipment is a two-channel instrument, that simultaneously measures, in real time, 86 sound noise parameters for each channel, such as the equivalent continuous sound level (Leq) (with Z, C, and A frequency weighting), the peak level (with Z, C, and A frequency weighting), the maximum and minimum levels (with Z, C, and A frequency weighting), and the impulse, fast, and slow time weighting; seven percentiles (1%, 5%, 10%, 50%, 90%, 95%, and 99%); as well as continuous equivalent sound pressure levels in the one-third octave and octave frequency bands.

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Luis Gasco
Luis Gasco
NLP Research Engineer