Shaw University senior Lionel Morgan’s class project could help quell disputes over noise levels in downtown Raleigh.
Downtown dwellers have complained about late-night noise from bars and restaurants, and the City Council last year approved new rules in an effort to create a quieter environment.
City Noise, which Morgan created in his software engineering class, provides data using off-the-shelf technology and a wireless sensor network to measure noise levels.
Morgan began working with Lloyd Williams, head of Shaw’s department of computer science and computer information systems, and fellow senior Omolola Balogun in mid-December to research a system design. They tested software and wrote computer programs, and they tried out the system around campus and other parts of the city.
“Raleigh has some growing pangs,” said Williams, who served on the city’s downtown plan advisory committee. “A system like this will let us look and see is something too loud, or not. Is the highway too loud? Is a concert too loud? Is a nightclub too loud?
“What we love about the system we created is it protects both sides because if something is too loud, the system records and documents it. And if a business is not too loud, it records and documents that, too.”
The final prototype “is an unquestionable success,” concluded Morgan, a Franklinton native majoring in computer science.
Morgan presented his City Noise project Jan. 28 during the fifth annual Shaw University Student Research Symposium.
During the event, students from Shaw, N.C. State University, St. Augustine’s University and Meredith College presented discoveries and experiences in research, internship and scholarship.
The symposium mirrors Shaw’s mission to promote new directions in research and to champion interaction among students across local universities, said Paulette Dillard, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Shaw.
“The fascinating thing about this is students are solving real-world problems,” Dillard said. “Students get turned off when dealing with abstract problems, but if they’re solving real problems that exist in the everyday world, they get excited and don’t think of it as school work.
“That is what we’re after – application and critical thinking, and this is a perfect example of that at work.”
The City Noise system cost less than $100. It features a digital sound level meter that measures decibels, custom software, a cloud-based system to store values and a dashboard to display current sound levels on a gauge and linear graph. The information it gathers can be made available online to the public.
Morgan hasn’t pitched City Noise to Raleigh leaders, but he figures it could help determine if something is too loud if the city set rules for maximum decibel levels.
“It stands out because it’s a solution, not just a class project for a grade,” Morgan said. “It’s something that can actually help someone and it’s something we can actually put out into the world – actually help someone solve a real-life problem.
“I’m hands on,” said Morgan, who interned at Fidelity Investments and has been offered a job after graduation. “I’ve always wanted a project like this. I wanted to make theory applicable.
“I just really would like to see us put the system out there and get people to understand how important it is to attain real data.”