Creating an acoustic map of Boulder
University of Colorado researchers are building an acoustic map of Boulder with plotted recordings that include wildlife sounds, airplanes flying, music playing at the Dushanbe Teahouse and voices from the quirky cruisers' bike ride through downtown.
A presentation of Boulder's sonic environment will be presented from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 14 in the ATLAS auditorium at CU. The sound mapping is intended partly to touch off discussions about a different kind of preservation: silence.
Researchers from the Boulder campus' LifeLong Learning and Design center, with the help of 20 volunteers, have been using digital devices to record natural and urban sounds around the city. The "sound cameras" are outfitted with GPS mapping software.
There are 1,300 sound bites in the project's database, said CU research associate and project coordinator Elisa Giaccardi. About 600 of those audio clips are plotted on the interactive map and range from a "high-brow" conversation at Illegal Pete's to the sound of chirping birds.
Since July, volunteers, have been recording sounds along Boulder Creek and on Flagstaff Mountain, as well as other places of their own choosing. The time and date of the recordings are entered automatically, and participants can add descriptions to their recordings.
"The results allow us an opportunity to learn from each other and engage in a long-term social dialogue about noise and peacefulness," Giaccardi said.
The mapping is part of a larger project dubbed "The Silence of the Lands." Giaccardi said noises can trigger emotions and memories — and the interactive map allows users to note whether they enjoy particular sounds.
The technology could also help with land management and preservation plans, urban development and community planning.
The project is intended to spark a conversation about the value of sound and quiet, said Carol Rowe, director of communications for CU's College of Engineering and Applied Science.
"People like to talk about how much lighting is too much in the night sky," Rowe said. "A lot of people want to protect the quiet of their natural spaces."
At today's event, additional volunteers will be able to sign up to participate in the sound mapping next year.
Speakers at today's event will include: Giaccardi; interpretive naturalist Deborah Matlock; and water education specialist Jennelle Freeston. Boulder City Manager Frank Bruno and CU Vice Chancellor Paul Tabolt will make opening remarks.
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