Edinburgh CitySounds was one of 17 experiments selected for the second phase of OrganiCity and ran from 1 November 2017 to 16 April 2018. OrganiCity is a service for experimentation that explores how citizens, businesses and city authorities can work together to create digital solutions to urban challenges.

Edinburgh CitySounds was designed to explore and celebrate the richness of sounds in the city, benefiting from recent innovations in digital technology and network infrastructure. It focused on how sounds captured in a central urban greenspace can inform community groups and citizens about biodiversity and health and well-being, as well as provide a unique resource for artists and data scientists.

The CitySounds team brought together an exciting combination of expertise and experience, including people from the University, the Council and the third sector, and covering topics such as biodiversity, health and wellbeing, digital audio art and data science.

The project installed Audio Capture Devices (ACDs) at several locations across the Meadows. The ACDs regularly capture short clips of ultrasonic and audible noises of bats, birds and other wildlife, traffic, and human activity in real time. The sounds are be combined with other data from sensors, such as light, temperature and humidity, and will be used to answer questions such as: How active is the bat population around the Meadows? Does traffic noise change animal behaviour over the course of a day? What is the pattern of human activity during different seasons of the year?

The CitySounds project was led by Edinburgh Living Lab, a city-wide collaboration founded by the City of Edinburgh Council and the University of Edinburgh, and worked with partner organisations such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust and community groups such as Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links to develop better ways for both scientists and residents to investigate biodiversity in urban greenspaces.

CitySounds was part of the University of Edinburgh’s Internet of Things (IoT) Initiative which is exploring innovative ways that internet-connected devices and sensors, such as temperature sensors, motion sensors, water gauges, etc. can be used to understand and inform new approaches to improve the lives of people living and working across the Edinburgh and South East Scotland area.