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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/10/19

Seeking Quiet? There's an App for That!

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GS: The app works in any city nationwide and in many countries abroad. I think you're referring to our curated "Quiet Lists" that appear on the website. These are curated Quiet Lists where when a sufficient amount of data for a particular city or metro area has been created, we comb through the data and generate a list of curated Quieter Venues for people to easily look up. These submissions tend to occur during peak days and hours (evening times) and we sometimes have our ambassadors in those cities (if we have an ambassador in such city) visit the place and even contact the management ourselves to ask more about the acoustics of the place and their commitment to a quieter environment.

About 10 cities are currently available on the website, but we're currently combing through the data of about 6-8 more cities - so expect to see more Quiet Lists released over the year, including in Portland, Boston, Dallas, Miami, DC and more!

If you don't live in one of those cities - keep making submissions and spread the word to your friends. Another idea is to do a mapathon with a few friends or a local agency. We just did one in Brooklyn a couple days ago and it was great - we soundmapped almost 200 venues in the course of one evening by choosing a few neighborhoods and sent people in and out of venues to take measurements - then we gathered for a social event afterwards. There is a lot you can do. If you're interested in doing a mapathon, contact us and we'll try to organize one for your city using best practices from past mapathons. We also did one in San Francisco, Baltimore and Miami!

It's Just TOO LOUD in here!
It's Just TOO LOUD in here!
(Image by Christopher Blizzard)
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JB: Cool! Which 10 cities are already participating, Greg?

GS:NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Ann Arbor. You can check out the link here.

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JB: A great start! I love that once someone signs up, even if they travel elsewhere, the app recalibrates and does not need to be reset. I noticed that when I left Pittsburgh and returned to Chicago. That's handy! What other new developments can we look forward to?

GS: We'll be implementing some new features - notably showing the SoundChecks by day of the week and time of day. This is one of the most often requested items. Also, we'll be including a new feature to better connect with the venue managers and work with them to optimize their sound levels or mitigate the noise. The iOS version has an objective decibel meter and we're working on implementing an actual decibel meter into the Android devices (which are currently read-only subjective input due to the inconsistent microphone quality across numerous Android devices).

We'll also be putting forth more efforts abroad as our recent upgrade of the app includes broader geographic coverage and other venue types such as gyms (which some gym studios - notably spinning classes - being incredibly loud and dangerous), churches, retail stores, train stations, offices, etc. We'll also be working with some folks abroad who have expressed interest in the app - which will be very exciting.

And we'll be formalizing our Ambassador program which has been a delight to interact with our community. To date, we have more than 150 Ambassadors in various cities worldwide. And we want to create a more formalized and structured program to help them accomplish our goals and recognize them for contributing to the cause of raising noise pollution awareness and finding quieter venues. They help by spreading the word, contacting local organizations, checking out various venues on the ground and organizing fun social events. Should your readers want to get more involved, they can sign up to be an ambassador on the website or within the app's settings.

SoundPrint App View of Map Venues
SoundPrint App View of Map Venues
(Image by SoundPrint website)
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JB: What a lovely idea! What kind of press have you been getting so far? Are you largely under the radar? How would people hear about you?

GS: Most of the awareness has been generated through word-of-mouth and general press, which we've been fortunate to get. We believe the app's mission to help those find quieter venues and put venue managers on notice is what has resonated with both the public and our users. We've gotten press from those within the hearing loss community, city-publications and general publications including Vox, a mention by Oprah, the New Yorker and more. Proudly, we received an honorable mention for Fast Company's 2019 World Changing Ideas which comes out in May 2019! Even with this press, our aim is to get the awareness of the app into the mainstream as much as we can, so we have a lot more work to do! Excited to see where the road takes us.

JB: Wow! Other than the article that my son sent me, I was not aware of all the great press you've been getting. And kudos on the Fast Company honor! By the way, since you and I connected, I've used your app twice, the first time, when I was in Pittsburgh last week.

Tonight, I was at a restaurant with my other daughter and it was quite noisy. I took out my phone and used SoundPrint; my impression was borne out. It was registering an 87, as well as fluctuating to the low 90s. We were seated at a table for two. And, while I could hear my daughter pretty well, the noise level was uncomfortably loud. If we had been part of a larger party, at a larger table, there's no way I would have been able to hear most of the conversation.

Your app has raised my awareness. Not only was it too loud but I really didn't want to repeat that experience, regardless of the tasty food, the good service or the clever decor. It simply wasn't worth it. The noisiness sucked out too much of the pleasure. Your thoughts?

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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