Researchers have tapped into human-created vibrational
'soundscapes,' a mostly hidden source of data, to count Aircraft, monitor
traffic and follow other human sounds.
Institution of Oceanography researchers Nima Riahi, a postdoctoral fellow, and
Peter Gerstoft, a geophysicist, will describe their efforts to tap into an
urban seismic network to monitor the traffic of trains, planes, automobiles and
other modes of human transport. They will present the work this week at the
168th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), which will be held
October 27-31, 2014, at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown Hotel.
are invited to remotely access a live-streamed video webcast about this
research and several other topics of newsworthy interest. The webcast will take
place at 3:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 29 and will be archived for one
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urban areas generates both acoustic and seismic "noise." While seismic noise
typically isn't perceptible by humans, it could prove to be an interesting data
source for traffic information systems in the near future.
this year an industrial partner offered us access to a large vibration dataset
acquired over the city of Long Beach, Calif., so we seized the opportunity,"
particular dataset consists of a 5,300-geophone network—deployed as part of a
hydrocarbon industry survey—covering an area of more than 70 km2. Geophone
devices are commonly used to record energy waves reflected by the subsurface
geology as a way of mapping out geologic structures or track earthquakes.
recording vibrations via geophones spaced roughly every 100 meters (300 feet),
we were able to look into activity in Long Beach with a resolution below a
typical city block," said Riahi.
the question: What urban processes can the space and time structure of
vibrational intensity reveal?
their surprise, Riahi and Gerstoft discovered that "by using mostly standard
signal processing, we can follow a metro schedule, count aircraft and their
acceleration on a runway, and even see larger vehicles on a 10-lane highway."
More refined techniques and algorithms may well uncover many other types of
manmade signals within the Earth.
findings indicate that urban vibrations can serve as a new data source to
observe cities. "Traffic monitoring tasks are an important and obvious
application, but other uses may be involved in urban area characterization in
which the type and schedule of activities can be visualized, so that it's
possible to vibrationally identify industrial, residential or office zones,"