The History of Community Noise Lab
Erica was a working (albeit starving) artist who made coffee tables and bound books. Her basement apartment doubled as her studio. One day, a family with two small kids moved in above her. These two kids ran the length of their floor (and her ceiling) ALL DAY. After a series of unsuccessful interventions ranging from banging on the ceiling to calling the police, Erica began to do research, quickly realizing that there were not a lot of tools/resources for dealing with noise issues and that this problem was a lot bigger than herself.
Erica decided to take one for the team, sold off all of her furniture making and book-binding equipment, moved out of her apartment, and enrolled full-time into the environmental economics and urban planning program at Tufts University. During her time at Tufts, Erica built a traffic noise prediction model and used these predictions to understand the relationship between traffic noise and cardiovascular health in a community right next to a very busy freeway. It was during this time that her advisor (the GREAT Mary Davis) suggested that she should consider this field called public health.
Erica enrolled in the doctoral program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Here she studied environmental health with concentrations in environmental epidemiology, exposure assessment, and biostatistics. She worked on two environmental pollutants: air pollution and noise.
Noise and the City
Noise and the City was founded in late 2014 and started as a simple website to house a community noise survey now known as the National Environmental Quality Survey and keep Greater Boston residents updated on the progress on Dr. Walker’s dissertation research at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Community Sound Portraits
Community Sound Portraits was founded in 2015 in collaboration with local artist (and now Micro Plant Studio Owner), Julio Cesar Roman as an artistic project to more deeply capture the subjective and personal aspects of community noise exposure. We interview a diverse range of participants and you can click on their individual portraits to learn more about their unique experiences. While this project is currently on hiatus, we fully intend to relaunch this project in the fall of 2021.
Greater Boston Noise Report
We released the Greater Boston Noise Report in late 2016. This report was Greater Boston’s first ever interactive noise report and featured interactive sound and noise perception heat maps and the Nation’s first ever neighborhood noise report cards!
NoiseScore Smartphone Application
After obtaining a doctorate degree in Environmental Health in 2017, Dr. Walker was awarded a small pilot grant to build the NoiseScore smartphone research app, which is available for both Androids and iPhones. This app allows you to objective and subjectively describe a noise event and add your responses to a live heat map available directly in the app!
Community Noise Lab
Dr. Walker started a Post-Doctoral research fellowship at the Boston University School of Public Health, in their Department of Environmental Health. In addition to obtaining a P50 Diversity Supplement from the National Institutes of Health to expand her Greater Boston Sound Level model to the entire state of Massachusetts and examine the links between sound levels and cognitive function in children, Dr. Walker also obtain a $411,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and used these funds to establish research under her newly started Community Noise Lab. Community Noise Lab’s primary aim is to holistically explore the relationship between community noise and health by working directly with communities to address their specific noise issues using real-time monitoring, her smartphone app, NoiseScore, community noise surveying, laboratory-based experiments, and community engagement activities. Actions center on challenging existing (or developing) new policy by evaluating not only how sound is impacting community health but how it is also an environmental justice issue. Our work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Atlantic.
Community Noise Lab at Brown University School of Public Health
Community Noise Lab departs from Boston University and as of July 1, 2021, is now at Brown University’s School of Public Health in their Department of Epidemiology, where Dr. Walker holds the title of Assistant Professor of Epidemiology.
Community Noise Lab in Mississippi
With additional funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Community Noise Lab is now expanding to Dr. Walker’s home state of Mississippi. In addition to measuring noise exposure, Dr. Walker’s team will also explore additional environmental issues around air quality, water quality, and environmental justice.
15 OctNatnael Kebede
A senior from Addis Ababa Ethiopia at the Piney Woods School, is passionate about the Environment, interest reflected in his projects since his freshman year. Natnael is active in PWS community, and dedicated to service. Representative of the senior class for SGA and a talented soccer player, Natnael is a leader of the Piney Woods School.
Coming soon (Spring 2022) to a neighborhood near you is Community Noise Lab’s NoiseScore Café. Details (and menu) will follow soon.