Sensor networks monitor noise pollution in cities
Belgian researchers measure and model road traffic noise emission in different locations around the world in order to assess and reduce the environmental impact on urban centers
Elton Alisson, in Brussels (Belgium) | Agência FAPESP – Road traffic is the most important source of noise emission in urban environments, says Dick Botteldooren, a professor at Ghent University.
By using sensor networks, the researcher and his group at the Belgian university measured and modeled road traffic sound emission in different locations around the world in recent years to assess and reduce the environmental impact on cities.
Some of the findings of studies carried out by the group were presented in a talk given Tuesday (10/9) at FAPESP Week Belgium. The event, held in Brussels through October 9, and in Liège and Leuven, October 10, gathered together researchers from Brazil and Belgium for the purpose of strengthening research ties.
"In recent years, we’ve developed dynamic models for forecasting noise that combine traffic simulation with noise levels and propagation and diffusion models," Botteldooren said.
Using those mathematical models, the researchers plan to provide resources so that cities can design roads with reduced noise levels for pedestrians by planting trees, for example. That way, they could improve the quality of life of the population.
"Trees are a natural way to control noise in cities since they contribute to reducing sound propagation," the researcher explained. "Noise reduction through the planting of vegetation brings cities additional benefits," he added.
The researchers have already installed sound monitoring stations in the cities of Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels, as well as Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Paris (France).
"The idea is to monitor sound in those cities so it becomes possible to reduce the levels of noise pollution and make the cities smarter in terms of controlling noise emissions," Botteldooren said.
Another study aimed at smart cities was presented by Fernando Pinhanez Marafão, a professor on the Sorocaba Campus of São Paulo State University (Unesp).
The researcher’s group has studied techniques for monitoring and control of systems of distributed energy gateways and other electronic devices to enable the construction of low-voltage intelligent microgrids in cities.
In these intelligent microgrids known as smart grids, a system of small-scale distributed energy gateways is connected to the main network through an automated electronic system, composed of locked electronic converters, and protection, measurement and processing devices.
Those devices are responsible for enabling the supply of alternating current to the connected loads, making decisions based on the demand for energy, performing monitoring and quality conditioning at the common coupling point, detecting failures and operating under extreme conditions, Marafão explained.
"The idea is to automate existing low-voltage energy distribution networks in urban centers that have very little automation," he said.
The researcher went on to say that the challenges involved in making these intelligent energy networks feasible are much more regulatory than technological in nature.
"The devices and technologies necessary for building these intelligent microgrids have already been created. What is needed now is to establish control methods and legislation that allow the networks to operate in that way," he concluded.