Noise-Monitoring Camera Being Tested Downtown

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
[email protected]
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Noise-Monitoring Camera Being Tested Downtown

Posted: 02/14/2022
Noise complaints are up: Downtown residents and business owners are tired of motorists with illegally modified vehicles, or those who choose to loudly rev their engines.

So the City is taking the next step to remedy the problem by installing and trying out a mobile camera that captures data associated with distinct violations of the City’s vehicle noise ordinances.

This week, the camera – on loan from the manufacturer, at no cost to the City – is scheduled to be installed at the intersection of Gay Street and Clinch Avenue. Data that will be collected includes the time and date of a noise violation, the vehicle type and a photo of the vehicle’s license plate.

While the camera footage alone cannot be used as the basis for issuing any noise violation citations, warnings may be issued, and the trends that are verified by the data can lead to more effective enforcement.

“Right now, the City is limited to anecdotal complaints from residents and what patrol officers witness,” said Carter Hall, the City’s Policy and Business Innovation Manager. “This camera, on loan from UK-based 24 Acoustics Ltd., is a promising new tool that can help cities address noise as a quality-of-life issue. We want to conduct a short-term demonstration project to track the frequency and source of the worst noise issues.”

The camera isn’t always recording, but a short recording window is triggered by a loud vehicle. 

The current City ordinance mandates that all vehicles have a muffler in good working order, and it bans muffler cutouts or bypasses. On streets with a speed limit of 35 mph or lower, the maximum noise allowed for most vehicles is 82 dBA. (The dBA scale factors in sensitivity of the human ear to various sound frequencies.)

Examples of noises at the 80 dBA level that sometimes are cited by noise experts include a garbage disposal or a food blender, or, according to OSHA, standing 100 feet away from a moving freight train.

A 100 dBA measurement denotes a noise level comparable, according to OSHA, with being on a construction site. Other sources say a 100 dBA measurement denotes noise comparable to a jackhammer.

“Although the demonstration project will focus on downtown, testing this tool as a strategy for enforcement will benefit other neighborhoods as well,” said Deputy to the Mayor Erin Gill, the City’s Chief Policy Officer.

“Excessive noise is more than an inconvenience. It keeps residents awake and disrupts workers, and chronic noise pollution creates a risk of negative health effects, both physical and mental.”

Once the noise-camera demonstration project ends, the City will evaluate the camera’s performance and the data generated before deciding whether such a tool could be beneficial to effective enforcement of the City’s noise-restriction ordinance going forward.
The 24 Acoustics camera records two-directional video, which captures the license plate number of unusually loud vehicles.

The noise-monitoring camera is different than red-light traffic enforcement cameras that are currently in use at 19 City intersections. 

The Red Light Photo Enforcement Program is credited with dramatically reducing wrecks caused by motorists trying to run red lights; the still photos that are taken by mounted cameras at the intersections are individually reviewed by Knoxville police officers, who make the determination whether the evidence merits a citation. 

The 24 Acoustics “smart” camera turns itself off and on, is triggered by a distinct noise event, and captures data, including video of the vehicle and license plate. The data collected will be used to inform enforcement policy and practices, but the video alone will not be used as the sole basis for issuing citations.

Click HERE to see a video taken earlier this month of a try-out of the camera.

Have a Noise Complaint?

Please call the KPD Non-Emergency phone number at 865-215-7450.