The cameras would be set off by sounds that reach a certain decibel level, usually from people revving their engines or speeding. If a car is too loud, a ticket comes in the mail. However, the city has a ways to go before the devices could possibly hit the streets.
Meanwhile, the calls for a solution to the noise problem are getting louder. President of the West Old Town Neighborhood Association, Martin Gutierrez says the problem has only gotten worse in recent years.
“The noise levels, especially on the corridors of Rio Grande and Central, has increasingly become a problem for our residents that live nearby,” Gutierrez told KRQE News 13. “We hear loud sounds from the cars and the trucks and then boomboxes and whatnot.”
An Albuquerque city councilor representing the Old Town neighborhood in part, Isaac Benton notes an increase in the problem since 2020. Benton is among three city councilors who’ve proposed a pilot program for “automated vehicle noise enforcement.
“Just the drastic increase since the pandemic, starting during the pandemic, of extremely loud mufflers or lack of mufflers, I guess is probably more accurate,” Benton said. “We were receiving a lot of complaints, all around the city, every single councilor I’m sure has received them, of being kept awake at night and just their peace and quiet being disturbed.”
In an attempt to turn the volume down, Councilors Benton, Trudy Jones and Brooke Bassan are proposing a resolution to install the “noise cameras” that could detect excessively loud cars and hand out fines. Benton says the proposal calls for merely be a “trial” or pilot program.
From the Denver suburbs, to Knoxville, Tennessee, even New York City, municipalities all over the country are testing out the newer technology. In Albuquerque, a similar device called NoiseVu has already been listening in for more than a year.
“It uses artificial intelligence deployed on small devices that can be placed essentially anywhere in the city or campus or facility and they’re constantly listening to audio to detect emergencies,” says Erik Strobert, CEO of Perspective Components, Inc. He says NoiseVu listens in for things like gunshots, car crashes, and even people fighting.
Strobert says this technology sends recorded events to law enforcement every day. He believes adding noise camera technology to the streets would help keep the community safe. “I think that any technology, public safety technology, that reacts in real-time and allows for real-time results is going to better protect the community,” Stobart said.
In West Old Town, Gutierrez thinks noise cameras might help. “I would be in favor of those noise cameras being used here. Not only for the quality of life of my residents the people that we represent but also for the tourists and the people that come to see the best side of Albuquerque,” he said.
“There’s no bigger fish to fry than public health and enjoyment of life,” Benton said of the city’s noise challenge. If the current resolution passes, Benton says the noise cameras would go up six months later.
The councilor says they wouldn’t be sending out fines during the testing phase but may be sending out warnings to loud drivers. There is no word yet on what those fines could be.