The capital of France, often referred to as one of Europe’s noisiest metropolises, will trial new prototype noise radar machines to combat notorious sound pollution in the City of Lights.
A December 2021 study, that analyzed European Environment Agency data, found Paris to be one of the noisiest cities in Europe, with more than 5.5 million people exposed to road traffic noise at sound levels equal to 55 decibels or higher.
Paris authorities are introducing new machines, that apparently work like speed radars, and are capable of measuring noise levels emitted by moving vehicles and of identifying their license plates, to city streets, with the first device mounted atop a streetlamp in eastern Paris yesterday, while another is expected to be installed in the city’s western section.
The city will test how accurate this identification mechanism is in the upcoming months before authorities have to make a call on making them permanent fixtures in the capital by end of the year. Current rules allow officials to sanction noisy motorists if the police nab them in the act. The machines will, however, issue automated fines.
According to the city’s Deputy Mayor in charge of ecological transition, Dan Lert, the machine would take a picture of a vehicle’s license plate if a “certain threshold is exceeded.” The city would begin issuing fines of up to €135 ($153) in the spring of 2023, he added.
The system’s developer, Bruitparif, said that data collected by the prototype radar – known as ‘Hydra’ – during ‘blank’ tests in the initial phase will be uploaded for performance analysis to the servers of France’s urban planning agency, Cerema. Bruitparif head Fanny Mietlicki said that the system will free up police, who “often have other things to do.”
Meanwhile, the government will deploy the radars in other cities and test out automated fine procedures, all under a mobility law passed in 2019. Beginning late January, the machines have been installed in the Ile-de-France region around Paris and in the cities of Nice and Lyon.