Awareness and learning in participatory noise sensing

PLoS One. 2013 Dec 11;8(12):e81638. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081638. eCollection 2013.


The development of ICT infrastructures has facilitated the emergence of new paradigms for looking at society and the environment over the last few years. Participatory environmental sensing, i.e. directly involving citizens in environmental monitoring, is one example, which is hoped to encourage learning and enhance awareness of environmental issues. In this paper, an analysis of the behaviour of individuals involved in noise sensing is presented. Citizens have been involved in noise measuring activities through the WideNoise smartphone application. This application has been designed to record both objective (noise samples) and subjective (opinions, feelings) data. The application has been open to be used freely by anyone and has been widely employed worldwide. In addition, several test cases have been organised in European countries. Based on the information submitted by users, an analysis of emerging awareness and learning is performed. The data show that changes in the way the environment is perceived after repeated usage of the application do appear. Specifically, users learn how to recognise different noise levels they are exposed to. Additionally, the subjective data collected indicate an increased user involvement in time and a categorisation effect between pleasant and less pleasant environments.

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Awareness
  • Community Participation*
  • Environmental Monitoring / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Europe
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Noise*
  • North America

Grants and funding

This research has been supported by the EveryAware project funded by the Future and Emerging Tech-nologies program of the European Commission under the EU RD contract IST-265432. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.