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City of Austin uses sound monitors to understand venue and music festival noise pollution

Austin, TX, USA
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Goverment Champion

Economic Development Department

Cost

Initial:
1 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2018

Challenges Addressed

Economic Development
Air Quality, Health, Noise
Process Improvement

Motivation

Smart city
Sustainable city

Funding / Financing

Public Private Partnership

Project Type

Technology
Tool
Service

At a Glance

The City of Austin recognizes big music festivals are an important contribution to city vibrancy and viability, but may cause noise pollution for nearby neighborhood residents. Working with a new sound monitor, the city was able to see real time sound data and begin to harmonize resident and venue conversations.

Problem Addressed

The night economy makes an important contribution to city vibrancy and viability. From entertainment districts to hospitals, “life at night” is part of how we live, work, and play in urban places. Nightlife contributes to culture and economic development, though also presents challenges for public safety, transportation, and quality of life.

Valuing the night economy while navigating its downsides raises a number of questions for cities.

As entertainment events and music festivals become more prominent in close proximity to community residential areas, friction around sound levels arise. It has become extremely common everywhere to see conflict occur around events like the Austin City Limits festival between residents, event producers, enforcement officials and sound engineers over sound levels.

Austin used/is using a smart sound level monitoring solution called SmartVenue™ to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

In an effort to understand how sound from live music venues or events, such as Austin City Limits held each year at Zilker Park, propagate through and beyond the venue into neighboring communities, the City of Austin Economic Development Department Music and Entertainment Division partnered with Archethought to use SmartVenue™ at the festival.

The city deployed SmartVenue™ sound level monitors at multiple backstage areas around the festival to capture sound pressure level data, relay and store that data in the cloud giving near real time sound level data access to sound engineers, event producers, code enforcement officials, and community members.

Initially the partnership was designed to help the Music and Entertainment Division get greater insight into sound level data, but as a result of the work at Austin City Limits Archethought and the Music and Entertainment Division are now collaborating on the development of new intelligence applications. These efforts will help the City of Austin work to fix the noise conflict dynamic, and help communities gain a new level of intelligence and understanding into how sounds will impact their daily lives.

Outcomes

  1. Increased Responsive and Engaged Communities - sound monitoring helps communities engage residents in beneficial conversation that disrupts noise conflict dynamics reducing noise complaints.
  2. Increases Nightlife Economy Vitality - accessible and transparent sound monitoring helps nightlife venues harmonize with local neighborhoods and improve reputation within the community.
  3. Improved Quality of Life - urban sound monitoring helps combat noise pollution fostering quieter communities reducing rest period interruptions.
  4. Urban Intelligence from Sound - 24/7 sound monitor deployments, and intelligence applications introduce new ways to understand how daily life sounds impact our health and safety.

Something Unique

The 2018 Austin City Limits lineup included Sir. Paul McCartney, Metallica, Odezsa, and more! In 2017 the festival generated over $255 million in revenue for the City of Austin from 75,000 attendees each day.

Who Should Consider?

Any city that has outdoor venues, hosts music festivals, and are looking for smarter ways to help residential and entertainment communities co-exist, also those communities looking to understand urban sounds.