(2021) Sound and the healthy city, Cities & Health, 5:1-2, 1-13.
At an international level it is recognised that urban noise has serious and negative public health impacts. This leading editorial and the special issue it accompanies seeks to broaden this agenda. An important goal for Cities & Health is to give ear to new urban health topics, methods and collaborations. In doing so this paper presents the topic of urban sound and health from several unique angles. At its core, we deliberately move the focus beyond noise levels, as measured by decibels, and harm to health through the stress of relentless background noise. Instead, we focus on the concept of soundscape, a more qualitatively nuanced research subject of enquiry. The paper serves as an introduction to soundscape and health from several distinct disciplinary positions and lays a good intellectual foundation for the twenty-two papers published in this special issue. We hope that through a soundscape approach we can encourage fresh thinking about urban sound, including how people perceive and relate to their sonic environments, and show how sound can contribute to health. We believe that this approach can provide a collaborative platform for sound artists, sound technologists, urbanists and local people to work together with public health and create healthier urban environments