The sounds of Detroit: Identifying the relationship between natural soundscapes and healthy neighborhoods.

Authors: Claudia Allou*, , Amber Pearson, Michigan State University, Rachel Buxton, Carleton University
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: natural sound, health, neighborhood, soundscape, greenspace
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Beverly, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Terrace Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the relationship between greenspace, particularly the natural sounds associated with them (e.g., birdsong, wind, and insects), and the health of people in the corresponding neighborhood. Growing research suggests that contact with nature, often defined as time spent in or within view of greenspace (e.g., parks), can benefit human health. In addition to visual and physical contact, auditory contact with nature through natural sounds is largely unexplored. After completing a systematic review to assess the knowledge gap, a pilot study was conducted in several Detroit neighborhoods during which sound data was collected using song meters and health data were collected through surveys with residents. Song meters were placed in parks to collect auditory data over the course of a week. These audio recordings were analyzed and processed to identify the bird species. Additionally, perceived stress scores were collected via survey. Using the information gathered, we created a kriged soundscapes in which we assigned values to participants and examined correlations with neighborhood characteristics and health. After the initial pilot study, we have expanded the investigation to include more parks, a larger sample, and a longitudinal design. By looking at the same neighborhoods over the course of a few years, we aim to examine how the changing greenspaces in urban areas, like Detroit, might induce health benefits for the residents and contribute to the literature informing the importance of considering different interactions with natural spaces.

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