Identification, Prioritization, and Assessment of Urban Quiet Areas

Identification, Prioritization, and Assessment of Urban Quiet Areas

Aggelos Tsaligopoulos (University of the Aegean, Greece), Chris Economou (University of the Aegean, Greece) and Yiannis G. Matsinos (University of the Aegean, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3637-6.ch007


Urban growth retains a bipolar dissension regarding quality of life as it is both deleterious and beneficial for urban dwellers. Environmental noise could be considered a byproduct of growth, and according to numerus studies, it should not be ignored. The small urban setting of Mytilene located in the island of Lesvos (North Aegean, Greece) was the case study of this research. By implementing a novel protocol, the potential Quiet Areas of Mytilene were highlighted. The methodology consisted of noise measurements, soundscape recordings, and strategic noise mapping using the CadnaA noise prediction software. Furthermore, several soundwalks were conducted with the scope to obtain the citizen perspective regarding Quiet Area management. The way that city inhabitants perceive their acoustic surroundings could determine the character of the landscape along with the quality of the soundscape and define the meaning of quietness, which still remains vague.
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Urban growth, meaning the territorial expansion of a city area, along with the spatio-social process of urbanization, retain a dichotomistic conflict regarding quality of life (Dadras, Shafri, Ahmad, Pradhan, & Safarpour, S., 2015; Lal, Kumar & Kumar, 2017). They are both, beneficial regarding economic and social development and deleterious regarding the environmental issues that could possibly derive as a result (Smith, Smart, Dorning, Dupéy, Méley, & Meentemeyer, 2017). The development of urban settlements is tied to the initial phases of industrialization (Docampo, 2014). Furthermore, the environmental quality of urban areas seems to decline due to pollution, non-sustainable development and unplanned growth that could be the cause of rapid changes of both, the landscape and the soundscape of a city (Brueckner & Helsley, 2011; Votsi, Kallimanis, Mazaris, & Pantis, 2014).

The goal of the specific research is the creation of a protocol in order to identify and assess the potential quiet areas of Mytilene which is a city in Lesvos Island (North Aegean - Greece), while the aim of this chapter is to highlight the citizen science actions that took place. Islands are distinct systems rich in biological indigenousness and ecological eccentricities. They often represent frontiers for several ecological, biological and sociological processes, such as migration, population spreading and human demographic concentration. By studying clusters of islands, biologists view a simpler microcosm of the seemingly finite complexity of continental and oceanic systems. Islands also offer an advantage in being numerous, of multiple shapes and variable sizes, with different degrees of isolation and diverse ecologies. Therefore they provide the perfect laboratories in which the necessary experiments can be conducted by which evolutionary hypotheses can be tested (MacArthur & Wilson, 2015). In these environments, amongst the most valuable resources affiliated to them are the summations of the overall emerging sounds. They play a relevant role with respect to the maintenance of the sense of a place and its cultural value. The cultural heritage that represents an important component of the overall ecological complexity is under attack from human pressures (Farina & Pieretti, 2012). Islands remain the cradle within which to study speciations and endemisms, and have represented a source of epistemic-theoretical inspiration for generations of ecologists (MacArthur & Wilson, 2015). Therefore, small urban agglomerations and in particular small cities in islands and mainland coastal areas are fruitful places for soundscape research. Furthermore, islands and coastal cities are fragile systems with many ecological peculiarities. The rigorous human intervention on these systems, strongly affects the quality of the soundscape increasing the need for protection (Farina & Pieretti, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Citizen Science: Scientific activities in which citizens and non-professional scientists voluntarily participate in data collection.

Anthropophony: Consists of the Greek anthropos , meaning human, and also the Greek phoni , meaning voice. The term refers to all sound produced by humans. The use of the specific term is proposed as more accurate towards the use of the term anthrophony met in bibliography.

Noise Map: The presentation of data on an existing or predicted noise situation in terms of a noise indicator.

Acoustical Planning: The control of future noise by planned measures.

Acoustic Indices: A statistic that summarizes an aspect of the distribution of acoustic energy and other information from a sound recording.

Netizen: The active participants of computer networks.

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