Geluidsnet - Netherlands
= Geluidsnet (“noisenet”): "a citizen-driven initiative to measure noise pollution around Schiphol airport".
Michiel de Lange:
"Geluidsnet (www.sensornet.nl/english, “noisenet”) was started in 2003 as a citizen-driven initiative to measure noise pollution around Schiphol airport. There was at that time considerable controversy in the media about noise pollution in dense (urban) areas, about whether it was better to calculate or measure, which party did the calculations or measurement, and about feasibility and affordability. Schiphol Airport’s NOMOS system combined measurements with calculation models and published numbers four times per year. Geluidsnet started with the intention to provide, in their own words, a more “factual” basis for these discussions. It set up 25 measurement points on the roofs of houses of private citizens and municipalities willing to contribute/sponsor. This distributed noise measurement network used fairly cheap certified microphones, servers running open source operating system Free BSD, a centralized server, and proprietary audio analytics software developed at Groningen University, and ended up being to be much cheaper than Schiphol’s NOMOS system. This setup collected and displayed real-time aircraft-generated noise in dB(A) on their website through a cartographic interface that showed periodically blinking green, yellow, orange, or red dots depending on the dB(A) measurement displayed in it. Geluidsnet managed to translate an abstract issue like noise pollution and make it tangible through a data visualization. The combination of hardware, spatial nodes, data and software, maintenance, institutional support, agenda-setting, and a public communication strategy established a commons system that provided continuous translations between the issue of noise pollution, quantified data visualizations, local residents’ lived experiences and the emotions related to it, and public policy. The project managed to engage citizens and municipalities as a collective with an issue they previously felt powerless about (see Nold, 2016 for a similar case about Heathrow Airport). The initiative had a public impact.
It influenced the agenda and advice of the state-appointed commission “Aircraft Noise.” The mandate of this commission was extended to include advise on using measurements for public information-provisioning. This was an acknowledgment that sensing data shape peoples’ collective views about matters of concern. In this case too, what matters is not the data on their own but how they constitute a common system that acts as an interface to rebalance the relationship between citizens, governments, and corporations. What interests me is how the self-proclaimed “factuality” of citizen-generated data translated into a performative force behind the justificatory inclusion of collective civic initiatives in policy recommendations. By making facts public, the project established a public, which in turn became a social fact that could not be ignored."
- The Right to the Datafied City: Interfacing the Urban Data Commons. By Michiel de Lange. Chapter 5 of: The Right to the Smart City. Emerald Pubn, pp. 71-83, 2019