Skip to main content

NoiseSPY: A Real-Time Mobile Phone Platform for Urban Noise Monitoring and Mapping


In this paper we present the design, implementation, evaluation, and user experiences of the NoiseSpy application, our sound sensing system that turns the mobile phone into a low-cost data logger for monitoring environmental noise. It allows users to explore a city area while collaboratively visualizing noise levels in real-time. The software combines the sound levels with GPS data in order to generate a map of sound levels that were encountered during a journey. We report early findings from the trials which have been carried out by cycling couriers who were given Nokia mobile phones equipped with the NoiseSpy software to collect noise data around Cambridge city. Indications are that, not only is the functionality of this personal environmental sensing tool engaging for users, but aspects such as personalization of data, contextual information, and reflection upon both the data and its collection, are important factors in obtaining and retaining their interest.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14


  1. 1.

    An audio stream is a continuous flow of audio data that has no clearly defined beginning or end.

  2. 2.


  1. 1.

    Campbell A, Eisenman SB, Lane N, Miluzzo E (2006) PeopleCentric urban sensing. Proceedings of the 2nd ACM/IEEE Annual International Wireless Internet Conference (WICON), Boston, MA, 2–5 August 2006

  2. 2.

    Cycling Courier as Mobile Sensors. A video appeared on Wie Wissen TV programme on German TV channel 25/May/2008,,a39gj50phkd5w8pf~cm.asp

  3. 3.

    Defra Noise Mapping England,

  4. 4.

    Digia SoundMonitor,

  5. 5.

    Eco Nokia Sensor Concept,, retrieved 2008-09-17

  6. 6.

    Yong E (2008) City songbirds are changing their tune. In NewScientist, issue 2649

  7. 7.

    Kanjo E, Bacon J, Roberts D, Landshoff P (2009) MobSens: making smart phones smarter. IEEE Pervasive Computing, vol. 8, no. 4, pp 50–57, Oct–Dec 2009, doi:10.1109/MPRV.2009.79

  8. 8.

    Environment Agency,

  9. 9.

    Environmental Protection,

  10. 10.

    Paulos R, Honicky R, Goodman E (2007) Sensing atmosphere, workshop on sensing on everyday mobile phones. In ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (SenSys 2007)

  11. 11.

    European Commission Working Group Assessment of Exposure to Noise (WG-AEN). Good Practice Guide for Strategic Noise Mapping and the Production of Associated Data on Noise Exposure, January 2006

  12. 12.

    Froehlich J, Chen M, Consolvo S, Harrison B, Landay J (2007) MyExperience: a system for in situ tracing and capturing of user feedback on mobile phones. Proceedings of MobiSys 2007, San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 11–14, 2007

  13. 13.

    Fletcher H, Munson WA (1933) Loudness, its definition, measurement and calculation. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 4(2):82–108

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Burke J, Estrin D, Hansen M, Parker A, Ramanathan N, Reddy S, Srivastava MB (2006) Participatory sensing. In ACM Sensys, World Sensor Web Workshop, Boulder, Colorado, USA, October 2006

  15. 15.

    Filipponi L, Santini S, Vitaletti A (2008) Data collection in wireless sensor networks for noise pollution monitoring. DCOSS, pp 492–497

  16. 16.

    Nokia 3250, Noise meter,

  17. 17.

    Oliveira MPG, Medeiros EB, Davis Jr CA (1999) Planning the acoustic urban environment: a GIS-centered approach. ACM GIS ‘99, Kansas City, MO, pp 128–133, November 1999

  18. 18.


  19. 19.

    Abdelzaher T, Anokwa Y, Boda P, Burke J, Estrin D, Guibas L, Kansal A, Madden S, Reich J (2007) Mobiscopes for human spaces. IEEE Pervasive Computing, vol. 6, no. 2, pp 20–29, Apr–Jun, 2007

  20. 20.

    Tuulos VH, Scheible J, Nyholm H (2007) Combining Web, mobile phones and public displays in large-scale: Manhattan story mashup. Proc. 5th Int’l Conf. Pervasive Computing, LNCS 4480. Springer, pp 37–54

  21. 21. sensing

  22. 22.

    Suomela R, Räsänen E, Koivisto A, Mattila J (2004) Open-source game development with the multi-user publishing environment (MUPE) application platform. In: Rauterberg M (ed) Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Entertainment Computing 2004. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3166 Springer 2004. c Springer, pp 308–320

  23. 23.

    New Scientist article, Cyclists’ cellphones help monitor air pollution.

  24. 24.

    Miluzzo E, Lane ND, Fodor K, Peterson RA, Lu H, Musolesi M, Eisenman SB, Zheng X, Campbell AT (2008) Sensing meets mobile social networks: the design, implementation and evaluation of the CenceMe application. In Proc. of 6th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (SenSys ‘08). Raleigh, NC, USA, Nov. 5–7, 2008

  25. 25.

    Noise Pollution, The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007,

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eiman Kanjo.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kanjo, E. NoiseSPY: A Real-Time Mobile Phone Platform for Urban Noise Monitoring and Mapping. Mobile Netw Appl 15, 562–574 (2010).

Download citation


  • noise mapping
  • pervasive sensing
  • mobile computing
  • online mapping
  • pollution monitoring
  • ubiquitous computing.