Round-the-world sound recording project for Earth Day gets help from Envision, ITaP

  • April 17, 2014
  • Science Highlights

A project to record and create a library of sounds from around the world on Earth Day Tuesday, April 22, features a mobile application developed by ITaP’s Envision Center to help with the sound collection effort.

ITaP also assisted with Web, storage and database aspects of Global Soundscapes Day, led by Purdue ecologist Bryan Pijanowski. The event is designed to highlight the importance of natural soundscapes and the research potential in the emerging field of soundscape ecology, as well as to interest students in college, high school and middle school in the field.

“Our aim is to get people from all walks of life and from across the world to record their soundscapes and to answer questions related to how they relate to them,” said Pijanowski, a Purdue professor of forestry and natural resources.

To that end, the project developed applications for mobile devices and other technologies for soundscape recordings and research. The free Soundscape Recorder application is available on the Apple iTunes store for iOS devices or on Google Play for Android devices. On Earth Day, people are encouraged to upload their recordings to the Global Soundscapes Day website,

Dylan Liu, a master’s student in Computer Graphics Technology who is on the Envision Center staff, was the lead developer of the mobile application.

“Besides recording sounds, we also collect the location and time of the recordings,” Liu says. “At the end of each recording, the user can go through a survey about the composition of the sound and their emotional response to it.”

The app also has a built-in file management system and users can choose to upload, replay, or delete a recording, or to touch a button for more information about the project.

The recordings on Global Soundscapes Day will be stored in a geo-referenced Purdue database so people can listen over the Web. Participants also can include pictures of the soundscapes or landscapes. For the single 24-hour period of Earth Day alone, the raw data collected will take up 10 terabytes of storage.

Jon Wright, Envision Center project manager, and Doug White, Jim Venable, Tim Kite, Scott Ballew and Heather Brotherton from ITaP’s IT Infrastructure Services and IT Application Services groups were instrumental in helping set up the system to collect and store all that data, including stress testing it to make sure the volume expected on Earth Day could be handled, says Jarrod Doucette, GIS and database specialist for Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, who works with Pijanowski.

For more information, see this article on Global Soundscapes Day from the Purdue News Service.

The Envision Center, part of ITaP Research Computing (RCAC), uses a blend of technology and art to help enhance research and teaching by graphically representing data and information. It specializes in technology and techniques such as data visualization and analysis; virtual simulation; human-computer interaction; and media creation, including publication-quality still visualizations, video and animations.

Besides operating the hardware and software, expert staff and students at the Envision Center consult on ways to graphically represent research and enhance teaching. The center, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, collaborates on grants, including building proof-of-concept demos needed for proposals.

For more information about Envision Center services, contact George Takahashi, Envision Center technical lead, 49-61862,, or Jon Wright, Envision Center project manager, 49-43165,

Originally posted: April 17, 2014