With noise pollution a top source of 311 complaints, Brooklyn startup ‘listens in’

Smart sensors in Downtown Brooklyn could ID offenders

May 14, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYU’s startup Sounds of New York City is developing an acoustic sensor network and installing it on lampposts along Fulton Street. Show above is one of the nearly foot-long microphones which will be picking up sounds on Fulton Street. Photo by Mary Frost
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The rumble of buses. The jubilant hallelujahs of gospel music. The loud grind of jackhammers. The high-pitched crying of babies.

High over Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn, foot-long microphones are being installed, which will pick up and analyze the neighborhood’s potent mix of sounds, allowing the city to move towards the automatic identification of noise polluters.

The sensors, attached to lampposts, are the result of collaboration between Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and local tech startups, which are working to bring “smart city” technology to Brooklyn’s booming commercial center.

NYU startup Sounds of New York City, which received $4.6 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, is developing the acoustic sensor network and installing it on lampposts along Fulton Street. The company hopes to eventually analyze patterns of noise across the city — and maybe track violations through an automated system.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

That’s a laudable goal, given that noise pollution is the number one quality of life problem reported to 311, with complaints jumping from 86,000 to 179,000 between 2010 and 2015. Racket from construction sites and loud music from clubs and bars are the top complaints.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says noise causes a long list of health issues, including hearing loss; anxiety and elevated blood pressure.

Roberto Gautier, whose apartment at 140 Cadman Plaza West overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge, suffered through years of noisy bridge repairs. The major work wrapped up in 2016, but Gautier said the nightly drilling of jackhammers and annoying backup beeps of construction vehicles affected the health of many of the building’s residents — and even their pets.

Gautier, a member of the Department of Transportation’s Working Group, says residents of the building experienced “almost continuous sleep deprivation” for roughly three years.

“Noise pollution in the ‘city that never sleeps’ involves having one’s sleep interrupted, which affects one’s ability to function healthily and happily,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle on Saturday.

Downtown Brooklyn Partnership said on Friday it is aiming to generate a pipeline of potentially useful technologies, including digital mapping and public data analysis, to help program the area’s public spaces.

The group is partnering with New Lab, a collaborative workspace based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Collaborations include one with Citiesense, which assembles map-based knowledge platforms to store local real estate and street conditions, and Qucit, a company using Artificial Intelligence to sort through data sets such as weather data, open street maps, calendars and any other sensor data.

“Brooklyn has long been home to innovative startups, so it only makes sense that we apply this local talent right here,” Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Regina Myer said in a statement.

The Living Lab program will bring “data-driven solutions” that will improve the quality of life, she added.


Top Brooklyn complaints for nightlife establishments:


•           Vodou Bar (since closed), 95 Halsey St.

79 noise complaints


•           Doris Bar, 1088 Fulton St.

79 noise complaints


•           Littlefield (prior location), 622 Degraw St.

78 noise complaints


•           Brg’n, 899 Bergen St.

77 noise complaints


•           Rose Fantasy Bar, 1233 Flatbush Ave.

70 noise complaints


•           Tonel Lounge, 1236 Rogers Ave.

67 noise complaints


Source: State Comptroller’s Office


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