Friday, June 18, 2021

Semi-Permanent Noise Monitoring

Jonathan Chui and Azar Sagiyev, Stantec Consulting Ltd.

Semi-permanent noise monitoring equipment with remote access has been available for at least a decade, but the technology has evolved with advances in internet speed and wireless connectivity.  Early on, we spent considerable time setting up an account with the wireless service provider and many hours struggling with the cell modem IP configuration.  This has improved recently.
While permanent noise monitoring systems are common for airport authorities and marine port authorities in large Canadian cities, semi-permanent systems have been effective for noise monitoring in short-term construction and operation industrial activities. Most semi-permanent noise monitoring systems consist of the following main components:
  • Sound level meter, pre-amp and microphone
  • Weather station
  • Power source (i.e., AC and/or DC power)
  • Cell modem
  • Data storage
Semi-permanent systems have many advantages, which include
  • Providing continuous noise monitoring for intermittent events with unplanned schedules (e.g., construction activities)
  • Reducing multiple visits to the monitoring site, especially for remote locations
  • Giving easy access to real-time noise monitoring results for users (e.g., clients, consultants, other stakeholders) via the internet
  • Providing a noise threshold exceedance alert (i.e., SNS message) for immediate corrective action
  • Providing sufficient data-sampling
  • Automating the reporting process
Challenges associated with semi-permanent systems include
  • Data transmission is limited by cell coverage (satellite data providers are available but at significantly higher cost)
  • Connectivity can be intermittent in remote locations
  • Remote (e.g., cloud) data storage of audio recording is limited by connectivity
  • Continuous power sources may be required in some systems
  • Post-processing and data management can be labour-intensive due to the large amount of collected data
Semi-permanent systems come at higher cost; however, they provide versatility and functions not available with portable systems. The use of semi-permanent systems may be justified for long-term (e.g., multiple months) monitoring programs where intermittent and unplanned site activities may occur. Semi-permanent-to-permanent systems are also an indispensable tool for major infrastructure projects that require long-term data trends, such as large airports, marine ports and highways that undergo major operational changes or are expected to receive steady increase in traffic in long-term.

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