What is this pilot about?
Loud, disruptive sounds caused by illegal vehicle noise such as illegal street racing and modified exhaust have been an ongoing concern for community members in Kirkland for some time. Residents have repeatedly reported these incidents to police, including being disturbed by modified muffler noise or hearing cars race through their neighborhood streets. This pilot is a feasibility study – to test new technology meant to capture illegal vehicle noise. This test is to determine whether the technology is successful in differentiating loud vehicle noises, which would be a first step in addressing the community’s concerns about illegal vehicle noise.
The City of Kirkland is authorized by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to conduct this pilot and we are contracting with a vendor to collect data through the use of automated vehicle noise equipment.
Where will this equipment be installed and tested?
Two locations in the City have been identified by Kirkland Police as designated testing zones, where community members have repeatedly reported incidents of illegal vehicle noise. At Lake Washington Boulevard and NE 59th Street along Houghton Beach Park, testing equipment and signs notifying the public that a “Street Racing Noise Pilot Program is in Progress” were installed on October 2. The other site at Central Way and 6th St in downtown Kirkland currently has signs installed. For now, vendors will use data collected from the Lake Washington Boulevard site to inform the decision on where exactly to install the equipment at the Central Way intersection, which could take about two months. The testing period will last at least 6 months.
How does the equipment work?
The device contains a camera and an array of sensitive microphones, all of which are connected to a motherboard and calibrated to a decibel threshold above the legal limit that will be determined in collaboration with the City of Kirkland staff. Vehicle noise exceeding the legal decibel threshold activates a remote audio/video capture of the incident. Software processing creates a heatmap over the video capture to display the exact location of the excessive noise generated by the vehicle. The incident data will eventually be available for an officer to review through a secure web dashboard. The future benefit of implementing an automated enforcement system would allow officers to manage vehicle noise incidents without engaging in potentially confrontational situations with the offending vehicle.
*Current state standards WAC 173-620-030 is a maximum of 78 decibels (dB) for vehicles traveling over 35mph from 50 feet
Will drivers receive a ticket or warning if their vehicle is captured by the equipment above the legal decibel limit?
No, the City of Kirkland and the equipment vendor are only collecting data on street racing and modified exhaust noise violations as authorized by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
Will the device record any loud vehicle or noise? How does it differentiate?
The vehicle noise camera technology has the capability to filter noise decibel violations using the vendor’s proprietary software applications. The equipment has classifications to train the program to exclude non-vehicles, lawnmowers, voices, etc. Differentiating among these sounds is part of what the vendor will be testing with this new equipment. Future use of automated enforcement systems would most likely require an officer to visually review the noise decibel violation to ensure the accuracy of the event, similar to what occurs with automated speed enforcement systems.