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Thursday, Feb 2, 2023
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The Number

Is your home or business location loud, perhaps with rumbling trucks, planes and other noise sources disturbing the peace? Well, if you live in the San Fernando Valley, you probably aren’t imagining it. An online startup called Howloud has gathered traffic noise reports and other data, and combined them with an algorithm to produce a noise index for individual addresses. Soundscore considers the distance from sources such as roads, trains, airports and restaurants, as well as whether there are buildings that may provide a buffer. A low score on the 100-point index means noisy, while the 70s is considered “light noise,” the 80s “quiet” and the 90s “peaceful.” So how does the Valley score on average? A 77 – which, while noisy, is less so than downtown at 67, but not as quiet as the Westside at 82. “There are a lot of freeways. It’s densely developed and there are two airports,” said Brendan Farrell, a former Caltech computer instructor who founded Howloud after looking last year for a residence and learning noise data was not available. The four-person startup operates out of an office attached to his Silver Lake home. Its howloud.com website allows users to punch in an address for a free Soundscore. Howloud plans to make money by placing the service on third-party sites such as apartment rental portals and by creating detailed noise reports for businesses and other buyers. Howloud currently covers Orange County and most of L.A. County, with the exception of the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys. Farrell wants to expand it to cover all of the nation, and plans an $80,000 Kickstarter campaign next month to augment funding so far collected from family and friends. “In time,” he said, “we will add much, much more.” – Laurence Darmiento

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