AESOP Annual Congress 2019 in Venice 'Planning for transition', July 9 to 13, 2019

Track 12: Healthy city planning: food, physical activity and social justice 

Topic: Creating health-promoting neighbourhoods: urban regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods in metropolitan regions

Skodra, Julita



Abstract for "Annual Conference of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sozialmedizin und Prävention (DGSMP) 2019 in Düsseldorf - New Ideas for More Health" September 16 to 18, 2019

Topic: Acoustic Quality in Urban Environments (SALVE) – preliminary results on the distribution of acoustic environments in an urban area

Robynne Sutcliffe, Bryce Lawrence, Salman Ahmed, Jonas Poppen, Dietwald Gruehn, Susanne Moebus


Limited research deals with acoustic environments and their opportunities for health. Little is known about the prerequisites for achieving high acoustic quality in urban environments. In our study SALVE, we investigate acoustic environments in defined urban areas. The acoustic environment encompasses biophonic (low acoustic frequencies produced e.g. by humans and animals), geophonic (created by physical processes, like wind or rainfall) and anthrophonic sounds (including sounds from stationary or mobile machines e.g. cars).

We recorded sound at 23 specific locations in Bochum by Direct Aural Procedure (DAP) with SM2 audio device (NTi) for five minutes measuring decibels, frequency, and time. To analyse the characteristics of urban acoustic environments, we calculated acoustic indices using R studio: Acoustic Complexity Indicator (ACI), Normalized Difference Sound Index (NDSI) and LAeq values. For instance, the NDSI reflects the variability of the registered biophonies intensities, despite the presence of constant human-generated-noise.

Results show the variety of acoustic quality over space and time within different land use types. Further, we will describe the associations between the acoustic complexity, noise levels and land use types (park, residential, road). For example, areas with different sources of sound but also with higher biophonic sounds show a higher acoustic complexity. Overall anthrophonic sounds dominate over biophonic sounds however; we could observe distinct open spaces with lower anthrophonic disturbances.

Beyond noise indices, further knowledge on acoustic indices is needed. For urban public health, it is important in the future to identify the benefits that people can derive from environments of high acoustic quality.

by Robynne Sutcliffe


Topic : Acoustic Quality and Health in Urban Environments – The SALVE Project

Jonas Poppen, Robynne Sutcliffe, Salman Ahmed, Bryce Lawrence, Timo Haselhoff, Dietwald Gruehn, Susanne Moebus


The acoustic environment represents a characteristic of urban environments and can have an impact on the well-being and health of the population. So far, health research has often been restricted to the health risk factor noise, measured by sound decibel levels. Accordingly, public health interventions aim exclusively at the reduction of noise level below a certain threshold. Soundscape Ecology on the other hand comprises all acoustic events of the environment, including biophony, geophony and anthrophony, which are determined by sound level, frequency, time and space. It provides a suitable methodical approach to analyze the relationships between soundscapes, the built environment and human health. To identify criteria important for health-promoting acoustic environments in cities the two year interdisciplinary pilot project SALVE was launched in October 2018. By making yearlong direct and automated auditory measurements of a robust landuse sample at 750 locations in the city of Bochum, located in the highly urbanized Ruhr Area of Germany, one of the largest multi-seasonal urban sound datasets will be established. These data will be merged with health data from the longitudinal, population-based Heinz Nixdorf Recall (HNR) study. With spatio-statistical models health effects of different types of acoustic environments in urban neighborhoods will be analyzed. SALVE is a starting point for an innovative approach to understanding the effects of acoustic environments on urban public health – beyond noise mitigation. The knowledge gained in this project will help to develop solution-based health promoting strategies in spatial planning.

by Jonas Poppen