the pilot study

May 5, 2016

The “Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes” project experiments with a novel mixed methodology based on the “open source soundscape” approach to identify, assess and plan small, quiet areas in cities, by actively involving citizens and using open source technology, with the ultimate goal of making quietness as a commons.

This methodology is validated through the development of a pilot study in the Reuterkiez, a Berlin neighbourhood affected by noise pollution and environmental injustice.

The pilot study is conducted in collaboration with the StadtteilBüro Reuterkiez[5], and a sample of citizens are involved in fieldwork activities, such as:

  • Open interviews;
  • Group soundwalks;
  • Mapping of their favourite small, quiet spots in the Reuterkiez, using the free HUSH CITY app.

According to the fieldwork protocol of the project, the research settings will be:

  • StadtteilBüro Reuterkiez: two group meetings with the principal investigator and the participants will be organized at the beginning and at the end of the data collection, in collaboration with the StadtteilBüro Reuterkiez.
  • The Reuterkiez: in the neighbourhood each participant will be asked to conduct fieldwork analyses as explained in the fieldwork protocol.

Methods

In the pilot study, “the “open source soundscape” methodology is applied to identify, assess and plan small, quiet areas in cities, by actively involving citizens and using open source technology. This new mixed methodology is based on the soundscape approach, the citizen science paradigm and a novel mobile technology: the HUSH CITY app.

The soundscape approach considers the sonic environment as a resource (rather than a waste = noise) and it focuses on the way people perceive the sonic environment (rather than on its noise levels = decibels). The citizen science paradigm implies that citizens are directly and independently involved in collecting data related to the study under investigation. The HUSH CITY app is intended to favour the process of collecting data by the citizens: such as audio recordings, noise measurements, pictures and user feedback by the means of a predefined questionnaire.

In the pilot study, conducted in collaboration with the StadtteilBüro Reuterkiez, a number of citizens are involved in the following fieldwork activities

  • Open interviews. Semi-structured open interviews are conducted by the principal investigator with citizens living in the neighborhood.
  • Group soundwalks. A soundwalk is “any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment” (Westerkamp, 1974, 2011). In the pilot study the principal investigator will guide a soundwalk with the participants. The soundwalk will be performed in silence and at slow pace. Along the soundwalk’s path, the group will stop at each evaluation points to collect data by using the HUSH CITY app. The soundwalk will last approximately 60 minutes and at the end a group discussion will take place.
  • Individual surveys, independently conducted by the participants. Participants will be asked to collect data related to their favourite, small quiet spots in the neighbourhood, by using the HUSH CITY app.

(C) ANTONELLA RADICCHI 2017