We Can Now Simulate Noise Pollution Levels Before A Road Is Even Built

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Norway has a noise pollution problem - one so bad the WHO claims it is responsible for 150 cardiovascular-related deaths per year. A new group of researchers is looking to predict and map noise pollution before it even exists.

Originally reported on Gemeni, researchers with SINTEF, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia, have developed a new method of mapping noise pollution for a future roadwork project. Using a combination of sound-mapping and vehicle noise recording, the researchers can map out a future roadway in a software and run a simulation of vehicles with the noise they produce, measuring the varying levels of noise penetration in the surrounding area.

The WHO proclaimed noise pollution one of the largest threats to human health in Europe, with the dense cities of Norway experiencing recorded fatal complications. It is claimed that around 150 Norwegians die as a result of cardiovascular problems brought on by the added pressures and stresses of noise pollution.


Noise pollution affects not only the person’s conscious state with the immediate distraction of sound, but also inhibits their sleeping habits, their ability to focus, their environmental comfort, and a person’s overall state of being. Persons with weaker hearts or existing issues suffer from the added conscious and subconscious stresses of noise pollution. Everything from the way you think to the way you breath can be effected by the commotion around you.

This new project looks to prevent new infrastructure projects from taking a toll on the surrounding communities.


The project began with measuring the various sounds emitted by passing vehicles. The noises were recorded with vehicles of varying sizes, traveling at varying speeds, and also while traveling in various road and weather conditions.

A combination of these recording is then arranged into a simulation, called MAUS, in which the projected roadway is mapped into an accurate geographic area to that of the physical site. A user stands in a location they wish to measure the sound pollution of, runs the simulation, and listens to the sound of the passing vehicles. As the user moves around, the sound changes. Further distances of course minimize the volume, and moving closer increases the sound of imaginary cars rushing by.


The simulation also allows for the operator to insert deadening methods while running the simulation, like a wall or other shield often put up to minimize construction noises.

The researches have yet to define a specific use for their new system outside of testing, but they offer it as a way for engineers and planners to better assess the effects of their projects even before breaking ground.


The simulation can also be presented to locals who will be affected by the noise of a new or expanded roadway, offering them a clearer perspective of what to expect over the traditional noise pollution map, which only offers various waves of color on a piece of paper, with no intuitive ability to demonstrate noise.

The Netherlands recently developed a noise-deadening park following an expansion of its busy airport, which distorts the sound waves that follow the ground through a series of pointed, maze-like triangular hills that help to silence the commotion of over 1,600 incoming and outgoing flights.


With measurable fatalities directly correlating with the introduction of increased noise pollution through construction projects like roads, any offering to better prevent noise pollution is a welcome one.