Noise limiters in music establishments made the number of complaints drop considerably

Director of “Movida do Porto” (Oporto Nightlife – OP) Ana Cláudia Almeida talks to iSleep about the successful installation of noise limiters in the downtown nightclubs, aimed at ensuring the residents’ right to rest. Lisbon also intends to follow this year the pioneering project of the Department of the Environment of the Oporto City Council.

What is your assessment of ON as regards the application of noise limiters in some nightclubs?
The outcome is doubly positive. On the one hand, limiters allow you to control the volume of potentially troublesome noise and, on the other hand, they make sure that the owner of the establishment is complying with current legislation. We know that, in many cases, the business owner is not present during the establishment’s activity and the limiter guarantees that it is not in breach.

This very positive assessment seems to show that the devices are very effective.
The limiters are very effective in controlling the level of sound emission within the premises and they are always programmed, calibrated and sealed in the nearest sensitive house. Also, they have proven to be highly effective in controlling the opening times and in detecting recurrent sabotage situations.

Do they allow real-time monitoring of nightclubs?
The noise limiters, which are connected to the establishments’ sets, automatically cut the sound right away whenever there is an attempt of exceeding the programmed limits.

How is that control of the warnings provided by noise limiters done?
There is a weekly control, especially after weekends, of the incidents or warnings provided by the monitoring software. Whenever a specific irregularity is identified, the owner of the establishment is immediately notified. Recurrent situations are resolved with on-site inspection activities, in conjunction with law enforcement authorities. But these cases are clearly very few.

Did the number of noise complaints decrease much because of the installation of noise limiters?
The number of complaints about noise coming from music establishments dropped considerably. At this point the noise complaints relate almost entirely to noise on the road, caused by nightlife users.

How many nightclubs now have noise limiters? And how many more will be covered in the medium and long term?
In the current zone of ON, in downtown Oporto, we have about 80 limiters, and that number is likely to increase with the entry of new streets in the map of ON.

How many infringements have been detected since the start of ON? And what kind of sanctions were applied?
Very few with the limiters, it is a residual value. The related sanctions are offenses and precautionary measures such as the closure of the establishment or reduction of working hours to 20 hours, a situation that has not been necessary to apply. The overriding priority is to overcome all the irregularities by means of accountability and cooperation of the establishments, and to focus the action on the regular use of limiters, the control of opening times and running the business with doors and windows closed.

Since when does Oporto use this technology?
Since January 2013. The Department of the Environment of the Oporto City Council had already purchased and used limiters to control temporary noisy activities since 2012.