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Decentralized sensors to combat noise pollution hit the blockchain

source-logo  cointelegraph.com 19 September 2023 10:31, UTC

The Silencio Network has over 35,000 smartphones working as noise sensors via the Peaq blockchain ecosystem in an effort to combat the issue of global noise pollution.

On Sept. 19, the Silencio Network announced its integration with Peaq as it continues to expand its reach to include more noise sensor devices. Silencio reports that the noise sensors working in its network cover 176 countries, and anticipates working on one million devices by next year.

The project calls its work “Web3 citizen science” in which community members receive tokenized rewards for providing “hyper-local” noise pollution data. Cointelegraph spoke with the two co-founders of Silencio, brothers Thomas and Theo Messerer, about the reason behind tokenizing sound data.

Thomas said the “seed” for the idea was planted over 20 years ago. Growing up with a hearing-impaired parent meant they were always sensitive to noise pollution in different places, plus their experience later deploying Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePINs) in Europe.

“We were captivated by the concept of crowd-sourcing geodata in a decentralized way. Driven by the vision of democratizing valuable data and improving lives, we recognized the immense potential of Web3 communities to address real-world challenges, at a scale that Web2 couldn't achieve.”

Theo told Cointelegraph that to date, Silencio has collected over a billion data points from the more than 35,000 devices employed in the Silencio network. He said the primary contributions have come from Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.

Silencio noise pollution map with data points collected from smartphones around the world. Source: Silencio

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He pointed to Silencio’s explorer maps, which show average noise level variations from country to country. He said trends are subject to change as more data is collected and processed at the moment:

“The general trends you’ll spot there go as follows: Urban areas tend to be louder than rural ones, and the issue of noise pollution is more acute in the developing world.”

“It's important to note that we're still in the early stages.” He said that the company began deploying its technology on smartphones back in February. “It's premature to determine noise levels in detail due to limited data density and variety at this point.”

Along with personal reasons for being interested in noise pollution data, hearing loss is one of the most prevalent global health concerns according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Till Wendler, the co-founder of Peaq, highlighted that, “noise pollution costs trillions to world GDP each year” and by using Web3 mechanisms, along with “citizen science to crowd-source the data, that will be crucial in solving this crisis.”

“Its data will also enable such businesses as hotels, restaurants, and real estate companies to make more informed decisions when picking locations.”

When asked about how user privacy is factored into the equation, Theo said a “range of measures” are implemented to protect users.

“We are measuring decibel levels and not the actual audio content. Decibel levels (dB) measure the intensity of sound,” he clarified.

“They are logarithmic and can describe volumes ranging from nearly imperceptible sounds to loud and potentially harmful noise levels.”

Given that location is inherently tied to the project, he said location tracking is something users can opt in for with “explicit” consent. Additionally, all the data collected from users in a given place is anonymized and encrypted in the app.

Silencio’s solution for combating noise pollution is one of many new initiatives in the Web3 space that works with physical objects, like smartphones, charging stations or vehicles to create efficiency and create a bridge to the rapidly expanding digital world.

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