Noise and Soundscape

Group co-ordinator(s)

Prof Abigail Bristow
University of Surrey

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Dr Francesco Aletta
University College London

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Prof Jian Kang
University College London

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The Special Interest Group (SIG) for Noise (SIGN) is concerned with the challenge of noise in the built and natural environment. Environmental noise causes annoyance and imposes a health burden on people while also disturbing wildlife. Key noise sources are transportation systems; neighbours and industry. As populations increase and become increasingly urbanised and dense, noise nuisance will increase. There are policy choices to be made, in an extreme characterisation between striving to achieve a quieter environment at source or living an hermetically sealed life in more senses than one.

The principal function of the SIGN is to provide a forum for researchers, practitioners and policy makers to explore problems, identify research challenges, develop research proposals and assess interventions.


Noise is a relatively neglected pollutant in terms of both research and policy intervention in the UK. The challenge here is to bring together expertise in academia, government, agencies, consultancy and industry to ensure that the UK makes real progress in developing a vision and pathway for the sound environment that is achievable in the next 20 to 30 years as part of a holistic vison for a sustainable future.

The SIGN will take steps to: (i) increase the national profile and importance of noise; (ii) increase the number of early career researchers in noise and provide support for their career development; (iii) increase the number of contributions to journals and international conferences in noise; and (iv) to promote joint meetings and activity between academia, government, agencies and industry.

The value of research in noise will be linked to identified national challenges, Global Challenges and UN Sustainable Development Goals (especially; 3 good health and wellbeing and 11 sustainable cities and communities). The SIGN should also develop ways to capture different stakeholder valuations of research in this area and to demonstrate the wider value to public life and its impact on society and the economy.

To support this the SIGN will draw together researchers and practitioners across academia, industry and government, with the aim that the membership of the SIGN will have representation from all UK based institutions concerned with noise, and encourage participation and contributions from users in other parts of industry and government, The SIGN will also work closely with the other SIGs to identify areas where noise research needs to interact.


The SIGN will divide its efforts between a series of workshops, conferences, and other scientific events to exchange ideas and promote discussion between researchers, practitioners and users and a set of specific objectives. An overarching aim is to produce a roadmap or pathway towards an improved future sound environment. Some of the specific objectives that have been identified include: (i) to produce a picture of the UK research landscape over the past 3 years considering such aspects as research trends, priorities, and funding; (ii) to produce case studies showing the value, potential and impact of noise research and interventions; (iii) to produce an overview of current research priorities for practitioners and users; (iv) to assess potential sources of funding for research priorities; (v) to assess expertise available to support research priorities; (vi) to develop a list of up to 3 grand challenges in noise research; (vii) to develop strategy to address gaps in senior representatives, early career researchers, and available expertise (if appropriate); (viii) To further strengthen international links and collaborations.

In parallel, the SIGN will identify useful resources for noise to be included on the UKAN website ( This will include a series of online educational resources, such as online seminars, events, such as grant writing workshops and conferences, and databases, such as lists of available facilities, models, and who knows what. These objectives will be discussed and agreed between members in the first six months of the network.

It is expected that a small management team will be established to coordinate the planning of scientific events, and other core SIGN meetings, and sub-teams of members will be established to address the specific objectives. The management team will include at least one early career researcher.

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