Urban noise

The sounds in a city are central to our quality of life. Constant exposure to noise effects both our physical and psychological health, and our ability to learn and communicate.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has proven direct links between noise and health risks. It is reported that in western European countries:

  • 1 million healthy life-years are lost from traffic-related noise every year
  • Every third person in the WHO European Region is affected by traffic noise
  • 40% of the population is exposed to road traffic noise at levels exceeding 55 dB(A)
  • 30% of the population is exposed to levels exceeding 55 dB(A) during the night

Don’t spoil your city – manage urban noise

Urban noise management is a major concern for politicians, urban planners and municipal officials. The tasks involved in managing noise includes solving noise complaints, noise mapping and policing noise limits, as well as noise abatement and zoning. Reports must be made, actions taken and the public must be kept informed.


“Noise management changes a city. Knowing this, we are taking action and are working with Brüel & Kjær to improve the quality of life for all the people of Madrid and its visitors”

Plácido Perera, Director of Acoustic Control, Department of Madrid Council


Manage the noise

The European Union has implemented a directive on environmental noise (2002/49/EC) aiming to avoid, prevent or reduce the harmful effects of exposure to environmental noise.

Reduction of the noise levels by traffic regulation, low-noise road surfaces, noise barriers etc. is very expensive. Therefore, it is important to know exactly which areas have the largest problems before investing in noise reduction. Noise calculations and measurements are the best tools for this identification.

Noise is not just noise

Traffic, business and recreational activities like motorsport or outdoor music concerts all contribute to spoiling a city and harming its inhabitants. The source of most outdoor noise worldwide is construction and transportation systems.

Often a large number of different sources contribute to the ambient noise at any particular point. The impact of each specific noise source must be evaluated. When measuring noise, the type of noise determines the parameters to measure, the equipment to use, and the duration of the measurement.

        “From entertainment noise monitoring through to construction noise control and industrial noise investigations, the Brüel & Kjær Type 2250 has proved a most valuable tool to our department: intuitive, reliable and with excellent software to make measurement analysis quick and effective.”

Chris Hurst, Principal Environmental Health Officer, London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames



Solutions for urban noise management

A wide range of tools is available to help in the various tasks involved in managing urban noise, from simple sound level meters to permanent noise monitoring services.

Noise planning and prediction Predict and prevent noise – planning
Noise planning prevents noise issues arising and optimises the use of resources by managing the future noise environment. Noise mapping is done through calculations, and is essential for planning urban development of residential areas, such as with industrial sites, highways and airports.
> Noise planning and prediction
Noise assessment Determine noise sources – assessment
Assessing noise is essential to ensure that noise limits are respected. Noise limits in urban environments are defined per source type – i.e., they are specific for traffic, construction sites, industrial plants, entertainment and leisure activities, and for neighbours.
> Noise assessment
Urban noise monitoring Limit noise levels – control
A range of noise control practices can be employed for noise mitigation, including the development and enforcement of noise limits and urban design. Noise control aims to reduce sound emissions, and to ensure personal comfort, environmental considerations and legal compliance.
> Urban noise monitoring
Training course Manage noise – learn to do things right
Knowledge and skills make a practical difference in the everyday work to abate noise. Improve your noise management skills with Brüel & Kjær training courses, ranging from the basics of noise and its effects to more specialised classes on noise planning, assessment and control.
> Training courses

We help our customers measure and manage the quality of sound and vibration in their products and in the environment

Brüel & Kjær Sound & Vibration Measurement A/S. P +45 77 41 20 00. F +45 45 80 14 05. info@bksv.com
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