TOWARDS A SYSTEM FOR LABELING SOUNDSCAPES SUPPORTIVE TO HEALTH
 
Berglund, B., Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, Sweden
 
During the last two decades noise pollution has been increasing. Sustainable development would require a decrease. To accomplish this, nine environmental health principles have been proposed that should guide future noise policy and strategic actions. Current mitigation simply relies on reducing the sound level of noise thus neglecting the perceived qualities of soundscapes. Pleasing urban or suburban soundscapes are neither created by singular noise reduction, nor by providing quietness. A pleasing soundscape would consist of a composition of sounds in space and time resulting from people and their activities, from animals and nature itself, etc., taking into account effects of topography, atmosphere, insertions, etc. In order to design soundscapes we need to know what environmental components to manipulate and how. Therefore, new tools have been developed for characterizing the perceived soundscapes and their correlates, the acoustic soundscapes. Conventional acoustical measurements are unable to capture the soundscape variation in loudness and sound quality at different locations indoors and outdoors in noise exposed residential areas. It is not enough to assess merely individual sound events because the soundscapes are perceived in their entirety, i.e., beyond their sound-event constituents. Soundscapes may be characterized in their entirety as perceptual attribute profiles representing four features: "adverse", reposing", "affective" and "expressionless". The most outstanding property of residential soundscapes is, however, their "echoey" quality. Since we have cultivated beautiful scenarios, developed impressive architecture and built functional cities, it is now time for "composing" and "labeling" healthy soundscapes.