Thursday, June 03, 2021

The Noise Map of America

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Transportation Noise Map is an interactive map which visualizes noise pollution from aviation, road and rail across the whole United States. The map provides a picture of the potential exposure to aviation and highway noise for any location in the country.

The colors on the map visualize the number of decibels of transportation noise. These levels reflect the estimated average noise levels over a 24 hour period. The map includes filters which allow you to view noise levels from aviation, road and rail combined, or to view the noise level from each of these modes of transportation individually. 

A number of factors are used in estimating noise levels. For road traffic noise levels these factors include road types and average speed limits. You might like to compare these DoT estimations with the noise level estimations provided by the OSM Global 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 related to them.

One in every four people in Europe live near a road which is responsible for noise levels in excess of 55 decibels. The NOISE Observation & Information Service for Europe map allows you to explore the levels of noise pollution across Europe. The interactive map provides an overview of the levels of noise pollution across the continent created by road traffic, railways, airports and industry.

The NOISE map allows you to explore noise pollution levels from four separate sources. Using the map sidebar you can navigate to explore noise levels across Europe from roads, rail, airports or industry. Each of these four separate noise pollution maps provide you with an overview of average noise levels for locations across Europe during the day or at night.  

If you click on a location on the NOISE map you can discover the number of people exposed to average noise levels of 55 dB or higher for the selected source of noise pollution. The map will also tell you how many people in the selected country are exposed to noise levels of 55db or above.

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