Annette Pietersen, Guus Elkhuizen, Jan Leendert van den Heuvel and Maarten Hornikx are working together on a citizen measurement network Airplane noise Groene Hart.
The number of flights to and from Schiphol doubled between 1990 and 2018 to almost five hundred thousand a year. This growth has led to a significant increase in nuisance caused by aircraft noise, also in the Groene Hart. Residents of the Groene Hart will develop and test a civilian aircraft noise measurement network with the help of Eindhoven University of Technology.
The sharp increase in aircraft nuisance is partly due to the regulations surrounding flight nuisance. All regulations are based on calculations. Measurements of actual noise and actual perceived nuisance play no role. Residents of the Groene Hart grew tired of waiting for measures from the government and the aviation sector and are now taking matters into their own hands with the development of a civilian aircraft noise measurement network.
How it started
Initiator Annette Pietersen: “In the spring of 2019, I was made aware of the existence of the Explane app for measuring aircraft noise with a mobile phone. Shortly afterwards I saw a call where the makers of this app were looking for volunteers to develop a meter that would measure continuously via a mini computer. That was the moment to bring in the technicians in the house.” Her partner René Kuijf explains: “I am an IT specialist. Our son David trained as a software programmer. In the summer of 2019, together we managed to build a well-functioning meter based on a Raspberry Pi computer and a simple microphone for an amount under 150 euros.”
More examples were soon built and tested in various places in the area. It turned out to be quite possible to signal the same aircraft at multiple locations with the different meters. This is how the potential of a measurement network came into view. At the same time, the question arose of how to demonstrate that the measurements were valid and reliable. That required additional expertise.
A solution presented itself in September 2019. Prof. Dr. Maarten Hornikx of Eindhoven University of Technology came in the crosshairs through participation in the De Monitor programme. Pietersen got in touch and soon there was agreement on the contours of a project for developing and testing a measurement network . Hornikx: “I got excited because our acoustic expertise can contribute to better mapping aircraft noise, an urgent social issue. And especially to do that together with society through citizen science.” RIVM was also involved in the ‘Measuring Together’ programme, which is aimed at supporting and connecting citizens’ measurement initiatives.
The third challenge was to find lenders. Aldermen Guus Elkhuizen and Jan Leendert van den Heuvel put their shoulders to the wheel. The end result is that seven Groene Hart municipalities and the province of South Holland have now pledged a financial contribution.
Citizen measurement network project
With the funding being deployed, a two-year project consisting of three phases will start in March. In phase 1, a laboratory test will be carried out with existing prototypes of aircraft noise noise meters. In phase 2, a field test will be conducted at five to ten locations in the Groene Hart. The performance of the simple noise meters in the field is compared with each other and with measurements from the professional measuring stations. Phase 3 consists of a large-scale field test to collect data and further improve the data analysis. To make the measurement data accessible in a public place, there is collaboration with RIVM.
At the end of the project it will be clear whether it is possible to produce more fine-grained sound maps of the region with a large number of simple meters and matching data processing. The trajectory also provides large amounts of measurement data on different aircraft types, which can be compared with the input data currently used for calculations. Based on the project results, it can be assessed whether it is useful and feasible to keep a citizen monitoring network up and running.