Measuring urban noise and its effect on health

As a student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Erica Walker, SD ’17, biked around Boston to measure noise levels in 400 separate locations and collect residents’ reactions. She then combined the measurements with data from health studies in the city to develop noise-exposure predictive models for examining associations between sound and negative health outcomes.

Harvard Magazine caught up with Walker for an article in the March-April 2018 issue on her ongoing work. Currently a postdoctoral researcher on a study co-led by Professor of Environmental Epidemiology Francine Laden, Walker is also working with organizations in Boston and Cambridge to map noise concerns. In conjunction with her website, she developed the free NoiseScore app as a tool for users to document their surroundings and add to her national soundscapes map.

“I see myself as a problem-solver,” Walker told Harvard Magazine. “I’m putting tools and data into the hands of people who can use them.”

Read Harvard Magazine article: Tuning In to Urban Noise

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Mapping Boston’s Soundscape (Harvard Public Health)