European citizens will soon be able to access and upload data on noise levels in their area, thanks to a new application on the Eye on Earth online map service. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has developed NoiseWatch to help the many millions of people across the EU exposed to damaging levels of noise
Noise levels can drastically affect quality of life. High levels of noise can cause heart disease, cognitive problems and tinnitus, while prolonged exposure to even low levels of noise can trigger hypertension and disrupt sleep. At least 100 million European citizens are exposed to damaging levels of noise from major roads alone.
NoiseWatch adds a new layer to Eye on Earth, which already includes WaterWatch, displaying information on bathing water quality, and AirWatch, which shows near-real time information on air quality. NoiseWatch will be based on data from 164 European cities.
An important aspect of Eye on Earth is that it combines official data with ?crowd sourcing’ – allowing the public to upload their own observations and information – and the NoiseWatch application is no different. The EEA is also launching the NoiseMeter app for phones and other devices running Android, Apple iOS and Windows Phone 7.5 operating systems. This app allows anyone to rate noise levels in their area and upload them to the map.
Eye on Earth aims to improve understanding of the most pressing environmental challenges by bringing them to a local level, making them more relevant for citizens. Policy makers can also use the tool to understand and visualise environmental issues to support informed environmental policy making.