Short description for the ANIMA Research application

    This is a Quality of Life survey app developed to gain a deeper understanding of the influence of the sound- and visual-environment on our day-to-day quality of life.

    There is increased recognition of the importance of in-situ assessments that help researchers develop greater understanding of how people perceive their visual and acoustic environment. Inspired by soundscape studies, and in the wider context of the ANIMA European H2020 project an Experience Sampling Method has been developed to ask people over the course of their daily lives about the quality of their acoustic and visual environment. The dedicated mobile application prompts the user to collect data at random times throughout the day (excluding overnight). After a notification, a participant is asked to record the soundscape over a minute. They then complete a few questions in relation to their sound and visual environment, and mood. The experiment lasts approximately two weeks depend­ing on the number of notifications per day the participant finds acceptable.

    Within the ANIMA project we are particularly interested in people who live in a wider airport region considering taking part. You can contribute to our research by downloading and using the app. At random times across the day, you will be prompted to engage with the app. All data collected will be totally anonymous (no personal data is gathered) and used solely for research purposes. By statistically analysing the responses of people living in airport regions, the ANIMA research team will gain greater understanding of what sound/visual factors contribute to different levels of perceived quality of life. Based on our findings, we will be in a better position to share knowledge with policymakers to enable them to improve the quality of life in residential areas.

    Currently, the number of people exposed to a certain level of aircraft noise is calculated on the basis of a person’s registered residence. It is recognised that people’s daily activities naturally involve movements away from/towards home during the day and that they are, thus, exposed to higher/lower sound levels in their environment. As researchers, we would like to have a clearer view of overall movements, and the app asks, therefore, for permission to register your rough position all the time. Data is completely anonymous - we do not know whose position is being registered - and the location data are rounded to a 100x100m grid, thereby making it even more "uncertain" where the user actually was. You can naturally refuse to be followed, but we would really appreciate if you wouldn't do so.

    How a soundscape mobile app can inform LUP decisions and operational procedures

    Aircraft noise is one of the most significant local environmental impacts related to aviation operations. While individual aircraft may have become quieter due to airframe and engine technology advances, an increase in the number of flights and urbanisation, with cities spreading outwards and nearer to airports, have led to more people being affected by aviation noise. More information on the locations, and times that people are exposed to aircraft noise, can lead to a better understanding of their reactions and complaints, smarter land-use planning and more effective operational procedures around airports to mitigate the negative impacts of aircraft noise.

    This study sought to contribute to a greater understanding of people’s perception of soundscape in general and, thereby, infer the effects of noise on the quality of life of residents near airports. Recent technological advances have enabled an increased opportunity to conduct novel sound research by deploying novel, tailored mobile phone applications. In this case, the AnimApp was developed and used to collect a range of momentary situational and environmental perception data to determine whether such information can help to improve understanding of the effects of noise on humans.


    The specific intention was to carry out an experience sampling method (ESM) study about the impact of the soundscape and visual environment on people’s perception of their environment and quality of life around airports. However, the project’s timing meant that the app was deployed during the period of COVID pandemic restrictions in the early summer of 2021. Thus, the aim had to be adapted to reflect that a) air traffic volumes were significantly reduced and b) that people’s activities were affected by mobility and accessibility restrictions.

    Thus, in this study, efforts were made to:

    • collect all the information necessary to better describe the way people interact with their sound environment,
    • study the influence of the sound environment on wellbeing and quality of life, and
    • understand the role of the air traffic noise in the composition of the sound environment around airports, not only acoustically, but essentially perceptively (since aircraft sound is only one aspect of the environment).

    The methods underpinning the development of the AnimApp were divided into pre-release and release phases.

    The pre-release phase 1 consisted of:

    • the elaboration of the test-method (i.e. what should participants be asked),
    • the development of the app on both iPhone and Android platforms,
    • initial testing of the app to generate feedback on the content and useability of the app.

    The release phase 2 consisted of:

    • refinement of the test-method in the light of the feedback from test participants,
    • modification of the app and release in the App- and Play-stores,
    • recruitment aiming for 60 participants around two airports (i.e. London-Heathrow and Ljubljana airports – later opened up to include other UK airports to increase number of responses),
    • conducting the field study,
    • evaluation of the gathered data.

    As anticipated, due to the timing of the deployment in unusual circumstances, the number of people participating was low. Only a relatively small number of participants (47) fulfilled all the minimum requirements for inclusion in the data analysis.

    Nevertheless, the survey provided good information on functionality of the mobile application. It also revealed that a lot of diverse and important information can be gathered in a relatively easy and novel way. On the other hand, considering the specific circumstances and the small data sample, it is important that results of the data analysis are seen as illustrative of how the AnimApp data may be analysed.


    • In comparison to traditional methods of exploring the sound environment around airports such as noise contours, this application enables more nuanced capture of the lived experience of the soundscape.
    • The application enables exploration of the relationship between momentary soundscape and quality of life – something that can augment stakeholder understanding of the impacts of aircraft noise on communities.
    • The application collects both acoustic and perceptual data allowing assessment of potentially rich interactions between subjective and objective metrics with a very common device, the user’s mobile phone.
    • Methods that capture the dynamism of daily life can yield improved insights into the experience of sound in different locations and at different times.
    • The pilot study was a successful proof of the AnimApp concept which gives a clear indication that sound level alone is not enough to assess impact of sound on peoples’ wellbeing and quality of life.
    • The AnimApp can be easily used and can give an opportunity to land use planners, decision makers and citizens to better understand and judge the environment where they live.
    • The AnimApp can help inform better decisions for providing supportive and healthy living conditions near airports.