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Microphones to catch noisy neighbours

London Evening Standard | May 3, 2005
By Mark Prigg

Noisy neighbours have become a scourge of modern life, resulting in stress, sleepless nights and even violence.

Now Westminster Council hopes a new wireless microphone could help tackle the problem.

It plans to attach the device to lamp posts outside houses, allowing inspectors to monitor sound levels. If neighbours make too much noise, council officials will

“This could make a really big difference to cutting down on noise,” said Steve Harrison of Westminster Council.

“At the moment the problem is that by the time a noise protection officer arrives on the scene, the noise may have stopped.

“Using the new system, we can leave a monitor in an area for several days. The idea is that we can pre-empt people having to call us — if the monitor hears a disturbance it lets us know.” Mr Harrison added that the microphones were also going to be placed outside bars and clubs to monitor noise levels and any disturbances.

The microphones, which communicate via an internet connection, will be attached to lamp posts across Soho to test the system for the next few months.

“Eventually this wireless network will cover the whole of Westminster and be used by workers wherever they are,” said Mr Harrison.

“Noise monitoring and CCTV are just two of the initial applications, and the great advantage is that we can move these sensors to wherever they are needed.”

Westminster operates a 24-hour noise helpline with a team of inspectors who can issue onthespot fines to offenders. But inspectors had to be in the right placeat the right time for this method to work, said Mr Harrison.

Anti-noise groups today welcomed the initiative. “This is potentially a big step forward and really could help,” said Mary Stevens of the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (NSCA). “In a city like London noise is a real problem, and is making people’s lives miserable.

“Wooden floors, dogs and music all contribute, and over time it can
really affect people. It starts out with a lack of sleep, but can lead to retaliation attacks and serious health problems.”

Nearly a third of people in Britain are annoyed by noisy neighbours, and for 14 per cent it has an impact on quality of life, recent research found.

Ms Stevens advised people to approach the offenders first. “It’s obviously a delicate situation, but the majority of problems can be solved by simplytalking to the offender,” she says. “If that fails, call the local authorities.”

According to the NSCA, the top five noise complaints are loud music, alarms, dogs barking, fireworks and hard flooring.

 

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