John Connell Awards 2019

John Connell Award Winners 2019

The John Connell Awards 2019 took place at the Palace of Westminster on the evening of 23rd October 2019, kindly hosted by Colonel Bob Stewart DSO MP, Member of Parliament for Beckenham.

The awards are named after NAS’s far-sighted founder John Connell OBE, who lobbied the Noise Abatement Act through Parliament in 1960 when noise became a statutory nuisance in the UK for the first time. These unique annual awards, known as the ‘Noise Oscars’, are now in their 18th year. They acknowledge the importance of the quality of sound in our lives, and champion vital advances in reducing the negative impact of unnecessary noise for the public benefit. Over 280 recipients from local authorities, industry, organisations and individuals have now been honoured for the significant impact they have made to improve the aural environment.

The seventeen recipients of the John Connell Awards 2019 are as follows:

  • LOCAL AUTHORITY AWARD

Winner: CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION; Highly Commended: LAMBETH COUNCIL; Highly Commended: BRADFORD METROPOLITAN DISTRICT COUNCIL

This award, kindly sponsored by ROCKWOOL UK, recognises that controlling excessive and unwanted noise in the community is one of the many tough responsibilities of Environmental Health Practitioners. Local Authorities are continually challenged to demonstrate imaginative and sustainable initiatives in the management of noise issues. The John Connell Local Authority Award recognises services, campaigns and programmes that are shining examples of community cooperation, education and creative solutions to solve noise pollution problems.

Winner

The City of London Corporation has developed a ‘Sounds of the City’ Programme from their robust evidence based on thousands of interviews, to support the London Mayor’s ‘Healthy Streets Approach’ by working across traditional departmental boundaries. Consequently, the indicator ‘not too noisy’ is now embedded in their transport planning and service delivery. All factors influencing people’s experience of being on a street, including how it sounds, will now be considered when assessing projects. The assessment of planning applications for new buildings will also include the Healthy Streets Indicators which, coupled with the use of Transport for London’s ‘Healthy Streets Check for Designers’, will avoid a significant adverse impact on the acoustic environment of surrounding streets.

Highly Commended

Lambeth Council’s Public Protection Team has developed a new operating model for dealing with noise nuisance by focussing on service users’ experience based on customer insight and demand data, making it easier and faster for residents to log complaints and get resolutions. At a time when many Councils are cutting back, Lambeth’s new holistic out-of-hours noise service uses proactive intelligence-led interventions. Residents receive a call-back within 30 minutes of logging their complaint and a single point of contact. While the team’s primary function is to tackle noise nuisance they now also identify and investigate issues around Anti-Social-Behaviour, environmental crime and licensing.

Highly Commended

The blight of noise from road traffic is the largest single source of noise pollution in the UK, affecting the health and wellbeing of millions. The problem is made exponentially worse when anti-social behaviour is involved from excessively loud car stereos, modified exhausts, incessant revving of loud engines and street racing. Bradford Metropolitan District Council consulted its residents and found – unsurprisingly – that 76% wanted the problem stopped. As a result they implemented an exemplar wide-ranging Public Space Protection Order, supported by the police, to fine the drivers of excessively noisy cars. While many councils fear legal challenges when using such powers this council said ’not on our watch’.

  • NOISE APP AWARD

Winner: BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL; Highly Commended: ACCENT HOUSING

This award, kindly sponsored by RHE Global, recognises local authorities that have best used the Noise App to support the assessment and management of local community’s noise problems. This includes how a local authority has communicated the existence of the Noise App service in its area, following up responses to noise complaints made using the Noise App, and successful outcomes in solving noise issues facilitated by the Noise App.

Winner

Bristol is a large City with a vibrant night life. To increase customer service effectiveness, the Bristol City Council ‘Neighbourhood Enforcement Team’ found a more efficient method of responding to its many all-hours noise complaints by using the Noise App scheme. Using the App, the Bristol team found inter- communication with complainants much swifter, customer satisfaction increased because it was easy to use and residents felt empowered. The team’s work load was also significantly reduced. It was also found that playing back recordings to perpetrators allowed them to understand why there was a complaint made against them.

Highly Commended

Accent Housing Association operates countrywide. Tackling neighbour noise issues, it found that that the usual use of monitoring equipment to assess noise complaints was sometimes unreliable and inefficient, so turned to the Noise App Scheme. As a result, the number days spent resolving noise cases has been reduced by 70%, and customer satisfaction has increased because they could express through the recording how they felt about the disturbance in real time. It also highlights when a complaint is unjustifiable. Accent found a significant additional bonus was that the Noise App helped gather evidence on domestic violence and child abuse cases, helping to ascertain the level of risk to possible victims. The App is now being used across the country in Accent Housing.

  • SOUNDSCAPE AWARD

Winner: ARUP & HEATHROW AIRPORT; Highly Commended: APEX ACOUSTICS

This award, kindly sponsored by Anderson Acoustics, recognises the advancement of Soundscape principles in line with the international standard BS ISO 12913-1:2014 and the practical ‘real-world’ application of the standard. As a member of the ISO Soundscape standard committee, since 2009, the NAS helped to develop, research and evidence new acoustic measurement and assessment methods which more accurately reflect what the listener hears. Soundscape opens up the possibilities of managing sound in a more positive way to benefit our communities, health and wellbeing.

Winner

The human perception to sound in context is at the heart of soundscape management. However, creating context-based experiences for consultations relating to future projects is extremely challenging: technical noise information relating to proposed changes from developments is hard for communities to understand. But seeing – and hearing – is believing. To help communicate complex changes on the nation’s biggest airport expansion project Arup worked closely with Heathrow Airport to develop highly specified fully mobile, soundproof Soundbooths, equipped with state-of-the-art virtual reality sound, immersive 3D and spatial audio demonstrations. This allowed communities to experience – first hand at 24 consultation locations – what proposed changes in aircraft noise would really sound – and feel like – for them. This pioneering public engagement programme has defined best practice, paving the way for others to follow. The wider application could provide significant social value and help communities to engage more effectively in consultations and decision-making processes.

Highly Commended

Open plan offices are great for collaboration – not so if concentration or privacy is required. This problem adversely affects productivity and people’s wellbeing – often leading to undue stress and anxiety when needing to complete certain types of tasks. Inspired by soundscape principles, this company re-evaluated the acoustic design requirements for offices from the perspective of the occupants, in context. APEX Acoustics developed an ISO standard with a new parameter to characterise the acoustic separation in an open space, based on speech intelligibility requirements. The result: a flexible, design based framework that, according to one satisfied customer is “completely innovative and exactly what the market needs”.

  • INNOVATION AWARD

Winner: EAVE; Highly Commended: NATIONAL GRID; Highly Commended: HEARANGELTM

Innovation is the key to successfully solving noise pollution for the benefit of all. This award, kindly sponsored by the Institute of Acoustics, recognises original thinking when faced with particularly challenging acoustic issues, whether through noise control or reduction programmes, management, technology or good acoustic design.

Winner

The EAVE ear-phone system has state of the art Hear-Through technology which enables the wearer to communicate with a colleague without removing the ear defender and successfully deals with harmful effects of excessive noise exposure to construction workers across multiple sites. The Eave system gathers noise data from digital sensors embedded in the ear defender plus environmental noise levels before wirelessly transmitting the data to its noise management platform called ‘Peak’ which is cloud based. This allows stakeholders to see across the site what kind of proactive noise management and preventative measures for health protection need to be put in place.

Highly Commended

National Grid runs the electricity transmission network in England and Wales. Complaints about loud noise coming from overhead line routes during windy weather had been received across the network leading to sleep disturbance and extreme annoyance. The source of the distinctive 630 Hz tone was eventually found through extensive wind tunnel trials where it was determined that a particular damper was the cause. Working closely with the manufacturer, a modified design was produced which eliminated the noise problem, country wide.

Highly Commended

More than a billion people are at risk from hearing loss from exposure to large sound doses. The major source of large sound dose is headphones. HearAngel is a safeguarding platform that is embedded into headphone firmware with a partner app on the user’s handset which automatically sets limits on received sound levels, protecting the hearing health of the headphone user.

  • STEM AWARD

Winner: SRL TECHNICAL SERVICES; Highly Commended: AECOM; Highly Commended: LOcHER

The STEM Award, kindly sponsored by the Association of Noise Consultants and ANV Measurement Systems, as part of The ANC’s #ExploreAcoustics initiative, recognises short video communications aimed at inspiring young people to consider  acoustics as a STEM career and encouraging the acoustics community to get more involved in delivering STEM activities.

Winner

The video by SRL Technical Services called ‘Understanding airborne noise’ used simple props and Lego people to highlight how people in the community could be annoyed by irritating noises and how these disturbances may be addressed, implying that bigger mechanical noise problems in the real world can also be mitigated in a similar way. The video was easy to understand, visually attractive, relatable and the message well demonstrated.

Highly Commended

Set in Derby station, the video by AECOM was a fascinating interactive 360% video with plenty of easily digestible facts about the properties of sound, making this complex subject accessible and exciting to a young audience – in fact, any audience.

Highly Commended

The video by LOcHER (Learning Occupational Health by Experiencing Risk) was packed with information about how sound waves travel through the air and through matter with plenty of examples that could be easily replicated at school and at home.

  • SILENT APPROACH™ AWARD

Winner: TESCO; Highly Commended: EVANDER

This award, kindly sponsored by Brigade Electronics, recognises significant advances in industry awareness and best practice to reduce noise from operations and logistics. This award is for organisations which have developed proven noise reduction programmes, whether through the adoption of quieter transport modes, low-noise ancillary equipment, staff training or other pro-active noise awareness initiatives.

Winner

Tesco’s two year project not only includes a commitment to being a ‘Good Neighbour’, minimising noise associated with store deliveries, but also to reducing noise in the workplace to protect staff stress and hearing. As part of this programme Tesco is replacing metal roll cages and dollies, the cause of major peak noise during the delivery process, with a new bespoke design with ‘eco friendly’ plastic components and low-noise castors which significantly reduces relative sound output by a massive 22dB. By reducing noise pollution through the design, development and introduction of this equipment into their stores and distribution centres, Tesco has set a new industry benchmark for mobile supply chain equipment. Benefits from this development also include overall lighter equipment, reduced Co2 emissions, reduced carbon footprint, reduced health and safety concerns, less failing parts, and reduced damage to produce.

Highly Commended

Highways England has identified over 1000 Noise Important Areas across England where the only effective way to reduce the chronic effect of road noise is by improving the noise insulation of affected homes. Evander was appointed as principal contractor because of its understanding of how road noise pollution impacts on people’s health and well-being. The company installs a unique glazing product that has been tested and certified by Salford University, to achieve acceptable internal noise levels. This is further supported by a market-leading ventilation solution which promotes an increased period that windows do not need to be open, not only addressing noise ingress but also improving internal air quality.

  • ARMSTRONG NEXT GENERATION AWARD

Winner: TRAILBLAZER GROUP

This award, kindly sponsored by Arup, in grateful memory of the late NAS Trustee David Armstrong, recognises and encourages the next generation of acoustic and soundscape practitioners.

Winner

There is not a straightforward path into acoustics for a young person, and there was a gap for those students who do not pursue A-levels or University education but nevertheless have the inherent capability to become professional acousticians. To address this, a group of professional acousticians set up an Acoustics Technicians Apprenticeship under the Government funded IATE scheme and is employer-led. They formed the Trailblazer Group to develop a standard for the two year Level 4 apprenticeship and subsequent assessment plan, a robust foundation from which apprentices could apply acoustic principles in their day-to-day work.

  • QUIET MARK™ AWARD

Winner: DYSON

Quiet Mark is the international mark of approval for excellence in quiet technology and solutions initiated by the Noise Abatement Society. The Quiet Mark Award, kindly sponsored by Salamander Pumps, is given to companies who have made significant investment in low-noise technology to align with Quiet Mark objectives supporting consumer health and well-being.

Winner

Dyson says its mission is simple – it solves problems others seem to ignore. When Quiet Mark met the Dyson team back in 2012, the company was already beginning to prioritise low-noise in its products as one of its priorities for its customers’ benefit. James Dyson is passionate about sound reduction and the problems that noise can cause. Over the years, his company has made huge investment into research and development to achieve a reduction in the sound output of its products without compromising technical excellence. Today some of its products are amongst the quietest on the market.

For more information, please email johnconnellawards@noise-abatement.org.

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