KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The City of Knoxville is set to test out a noise-monitoring camera, a device that could help officials enforce local noise restrictions against loud vehicles.
The device is similar to red light cameras but is triggered by sound by using a filter designed to pick up on noisy vehicles and exhaust. A camera is scheduled to be installed at the intersection of Gay Street and Clinch Avenue for a trial run at no cost to the city.
A release from the city said noise complaints are up and downtown residents and business owners are tired of noise pollution from illegally modified vehicles. Data that will be collected includes the time and date of a noise violation, the vehicle type and a photo of the vehicle’s license plate.
The camera footage cannot be be used alone as the basis for issuing a noise violation but warnings may be issued. The city release said the trends that are verified by the data can lead to more effective enforcement.
“Right now, the City is limited to anecdotal complaints from residents and what patrol officers witness,” said Carter Hall, the City’s Policy and Business Innovation Manager. “This camera, on loan from UK-based 24 Acoustics Ltd., is a promising new tool that can help cities address noise as a quality-of-life issue. We want to conduct a short-term demonstration project to track the frequency and source of the worst noise issues.”
Once the project ends, the city will evaluate the camera and the data that was collected before deciding if the tool would be beneficial to the city’s noise restriction ordinance.
“Although the demonstration project will focus on downtown, testing this tool as a strategy for enforcement will benefit other neighborhoods as well. Excessive noise is more than an inconvenience. It keeps residents awake and disrupts workers, and chronic noise pollution creates a risk of negative health effects, both physical and mental.”Deputy to the Mayor Erin Gill, the City’s Chief Policy Officer.
City ordinances mandate that the maximum noise allowed for most vehicles is 82 dBA on streets with a speed limit of 35 mph or lower. Exhaust mufflers must be in good working order and city ordinances ban muffler cutouts or bypasses.
According to OSHA, noises at the 80 dBA level are comparable to standing 100 feet away from a moving train. A 100 dBA measurement denotes a noise level comparable, according to OSHA, with being on a construction site.
“It’s waiting for a noisy vehicle, and when it detects one, it captures video, audio, noise levels, and uploads everything to a web server, where someone can review it and make a judgment as to whether it’s ok or not,” said Intelligent Instruments director, Dave Coles, who described the technology to WATE after the city previously announced plans to test the device.
What they don’t pick up on, he said, are conversations, despite how loud they may be.
“A, because a voice wouldn’t really be loud enough. And B, because it’s not generating at the frequencies that we’d be looking for,” said Coles.
“It’s continually recording, but then deleting data that’s a few seconds old. But as soon as it detects something, it will keep the last few seconds plus the next few seconds,” said Coles. “We’re looking at frequencies that are specific to car exhaust or vehicle exhaust, and anything else is pretty much ignored.”
The City will be placing signage downtown announcing the use of the enforcement technology.