Why Decibels Aren't the End All be All

admin 05/11/2017


Big news here at NoiseAware - we launched our official Noise Risk Score and we couldn’t be more excited! Amongst the excitement has been the question, “how is this better than the previously used decibel scale?” and we’re here to tell you - decibels suck! No, seriously... they do!

There’s more to sound than just decibels. It’s why our team aimed to develop something that was more advanced at measuring noise within a particular environment. In our case, that environment has been homes -- from large vacation homes to urban multi-family units, and we realized that decibels were simply not enough.

So it was born, our proprietary algorithm, the Noise Risk Score (or NRS). Coupling NRS with our noise detection technology makes understanding noise in different environments much easier.

To start, let us explain to you in layman's terms how sound works. Bear with us, we know this might be a little Bill Nye the Science Guy or bringing you back to that Physics class you failed in high school (or was that just me?).

How loud a noise sounds depends upon the listener, aka, noise is subjective. However, what makes one noise sound louder than another is the amount of energy.

Think of the weather app on your phone. Today’s temperature in Dallas is 83 degrees. Yet, when you go outside it’s about 5-10 degrees cooler in the shade of a big tree or a tall building. The opposite would be standing in a big empty field and it feels about 5-10 degrees warmer. The reality is the weather app only gives you one temperature, one measurement at a certain time. However, that isn’t the true case in every scenario or over periods of time.

Noise acts the same way. Therefore, our noise risk score goes beyond the sporadic and instantaneous measurement of a decibel, to bring you context and deeper insight. We track not only how loud it is, but how long it is loud for. We combine this with a number of other factors to bring you the contextual noise risk score. Nobody wants a text every time your guests sneezes.


What we do want to know is what’s happening at the property, so that you can be made more aware and take action.

Noise Risk Score is sophisticated in tracking as many variables as possible; in other words, our sensors are more accurate than reading decibels alone. Awesome, right?!

Additionally, you never have to worry about our sensors collecting audio recordings, because it’s only collecting pressure readings, which we turn into data. Non-intrusive and sophisticated, meaning it provides your guests with privacy and provides you with reassurance that your property is safe from noise complaints. We like to say our product provides insight while you’re off-site!

Now some of you may be wondering why your local cities still measure in decibels the way they do. Well here’s a little background on how this way of measuring came about.

The Noise Control Act of 1972 was the first real legislation passed in this country regarding noise. It stated, "Inadequately controlled noise presents a growing danger to the health and welfare of the Nation's population, particularly in urban areas. The major sources of noise include transportation vehicles and equipment, machinery, appliances, and other products in commerce”.

If you read through city noise ordinances, as I often do, you'll hear a lot about decibels. Aside from the aforementioned threats listed by the EPA in 1972, more recent legislation, in cities like La Quinta or Palm Springs, California, talks mostly about noise from Airports or Highways.

The bottom line is this, you are not buying noise monitoring technology to monitor traffic patterns on I-10, LAX or Palm Springs' airfields. Unlike construction, manufacturing, airports or highways, the noise concerns presented by short term rentals are significantly different. They need to be measured differently!

We built the Noise Risk Score to tell you about noise that matters, and cut out the loud sneeze, game-winning touchdown cheer or broken wine glass.

Human beings converse at inconsistent volumes and tones, and make music that reflects that. We did the math and smoothed that data. We can tell you when one guests seems to 'talk a lot louder’ than most of your other guests.

We can tell you when guests are talking on that one patio that backs up to your neighbors back window...at midnight... on a Wednesday. The Noise Risk Score was developed specifically to monitor noise made by people talking, living or playing loud music in densely populated areas. We can leave the measurement of decibels for airports and highways.

If you have any more questions on Noise Risk Score or about our product, please feel free to contact us at info@noiseaware.io and we will be happy to further show you why decibels suck!

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