Edinburgh’s Meadows to be Wired For Sound

Edinburgh CitySounds

The Internet of Things will help Edinburgh University understand the city’s public park in a whole new way.

A new project from the University of Edinburgh will place sensors around the Meadows public park in Edinburgh’s city centre, to help researchers understand the ways in which people and nature coexist.

Sound sensors will capture ultrasonic and audible noises of bats, birds and other wildlife, as well as traffic and human activity, while others will record light levels, humidity and temperature.

The goal is to answer a range of questions about the city’s interactions with nature. Findings may reveal the activity of the park’s bat population; ways in which traffic noise influences animal behaviour or highlight seasonal variations in people visiting the park.

The outcomes could inform how land is used for the benefit of people, wildlife and the economy, and increase the quality of urban green space. Data from the project will also be used to inspire an interactive sound artwork.

The experiment forms part of the University of Edinburgh’s Internet of Things initiative, which is exploring ways in which internet-connected devices can enrich everyday life.

It is led by Edinburgh Living Lab, a city-wide collaboration founded by the City of Edinburgh Council and the University of Edinburgh, and is working with partner organisations such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust and community groups such as Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links.

Professor Ewan Klein of the University’s School of Informatics, told DIGIT:

“Sounds tell us so much about what’s happening around us – birds in a garden, a night on the town, or fire engines rushing to an emergency – but this can be pushed to the back of our awareness. The CitySounds project will be valuable in exploring and celebrating the richness of urban sounds, benefiting from developments in digital technology and network infrastructure.”

Yusef SamariFriends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, said:

“We are delighted to be involved in this project, which is giving us an entirely new perspective on our much-loved park. We look forward to finding out what the sounds of the Meadows can tell us, particularly regarding its wildlife.”


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