Quiet, please: Noise camera to be installed downtown

If the new cameras catch you breaking the noise limit, they could help the city hand you a $50 fine.
If the new cameras catch you breaking the noise limit, they could help the city hand you a $50 fine.
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 9:07 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The City of Knoxville announced that a new noise camera would be installed and tested in downtown Knoxville this week.

In December, the city first introduced the idea in hopes the cameras would track the frequency and source of the loudest vehicles that have become a nuisance to some downtown residents and business owners.

The 24 Acoustics “smart cameras,” installed at Gay Street and Clinch Avenue, can turn itself off and on, will be triggered by a particular noise event and captures data. Once activated, the noise monitor on the camera will monitor noise levels and take visual and audio recordings when the noise exceeds a certain decibel level.

The recordings will include the time and date of the violation, the vehicle type and a photo of the vehicle’s license plate, according to a news release.

Although the camera’s footage alone cannot be used as a basis for issuing noise violation citations, warnings may be issued and data trends could lead to more effective enforcement, the city said.

“Right now, the City is limited to anecdotal complaints from residents and what patrol officers witness,” said Carter Hall, the City’s Policy and Business Innovation Manager. “This camera, on loan from UK-based 24 Acoustics Ltd., is a promising new tool that can help cities address noise as a quality-of-life issue. We want to conduct a short-term demonstration project to track the frequency and source of the worst noise issues.”

The City of Knoxville’s motor vehicle noise ordinance requests that cars keep their noise levels under 82 decibels if they drive faster than 35 miles per hour. According to experts from OSHA, an example of noise at that decibel would sound similar to garbage disposal, food blender or standing 100 feet away from a moving freight train.

“Although the demonstration project will focus on downtown, testing this tool as a strategy for enforcement will benefit other neighborhoods as well,” said Deputy to the Mayor Erin Gill, the City’s Chief Policy Officer. “Excessive noise is more than an inconvenience. It keeps residents awake and disrupts workers, and chronic noise pollution creates a risk of negative health effects, both physical and mental.”

Downtown Knoxville neighbors told WVLT News that they hear people revving their car engines and 3:00 a.m. Ashton McDanel is a student at UT and said the cars keep her up at night.

“I had an 8:00 a.m. final this morning, and I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. this morning from the revving from cars,” said McDanel.

Once the noise-camera demonstration project ends, the city will evaluate the camera’s performance and data generated before deciding whether the tool could be beneficial to the effective enforcement of Knoxville’s noise-reduction ordinance in the future.

Signage will be posted letting people know about the plan to deter loud vehicles by using the new technology.

A new noise camera being installed this week on Gay Street will capture information to help City leaders track the frequency and source of the loudest vehicles drawing the ire of downtown residents and business owners.

Posted by City of Knoxville - Government on Monday, February 14, 2022

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