University of Illinois at Chicago: Urban Data Visualization Lab UIC Home

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Harrison Curve Noise Study

Project Started: June 2001
Project Completed August 2001

Representing Noise on Elevated Rapid Transit Lines Noise is a ubiquitous consequence of transit operations. Noise from trains affects transit users, non-users, and adjacent neighbors. We know that noise can be annoying in different ways and require different solutions. Different people perceive noise differently and it is difficult to describe.

The use of visualization in transportation is important because it provides the public an opportunity to understand highly technical engineering data about noise in transit systems in an easier to understand format by allowing them to 'see' noise. Through visualization we represent train noise amplitude signals quantitatively and qualitatively using video, calibrated decibel levels, and accompanying noise graphs.

This allows the public means to hear, see, and describe existing noise levels at a variety of locations under different conditions. Visual, audio, and graphical representation of noise allows the public to engage in enhanced discussions of current situations and be an integral part of better-informed and more acceptable decisions made by all stakeholders. This project identified technical issues related to the visualization of noise, and then described an implementation for the CTA. The CTA used noise visualization to instruct non-engineering personnel and to engage a wider audience at public and neighborhood meetings.

For further information please contact Mike Shiffer at