Monday, April 04, 2016

The Worldwide Noise Pollution Map

The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map uses OpenStreetMap data to map the levels of noise pollution across the world. At the heart of the OSM Global Noise Pollution Map is the very clever but simple idea of assigning noise pollution levels based on OpenStreetMap tags.

Map features in OpenStreetMap are assigned a tag to describe what has been mapped. These tags can also be assigned a value. For example all roads are tagged as a 'highway' but are also assigned a value such as 'motorway', 'secondary' or 'residential;.

The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map use these tags and values to assign a noise pollution level based on general assumptions. For example highway, trunk, primary and secondary roads are deemed to be noisier than normal street or service roads. The OSM Global Noise Pollution Map also assumes that railways and retail & industrial zones will also have a level of noise pollution associated with them.

Such a blanket approach obviously has its limits. Looking at the map around where I live in London I'd agree with the majority of the noise levels but there are one or two buildings which definitely aren't as noisy as the map suggests.

However, quibbles aside, this is a neat idea and I'm sure that it can be refined further. For example there are a lot of different types of retail outlet tags in OpenStreetMap, so there is possibly room to refine the levels of noise pollution assigned to each type of shop and store on the global map.

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