KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Michele Hummel knows the people who live, visit and work downtown are concerned about excessive noise. It's something she hears about a lot as executive director of the Downtown Knoxville Alliance.
"It has been on the top-five list of concerns or annoyances in the downtown area," she said. "The residents have been complaining, obviously, because of the noise at night, but also business owners are complaining because their patrons are having a difficult time talking on their outside patio with cars driving, and that kind of thing."
In February, the City of Knoxville installed a noise camera at the intersection of Clinch Avenue and Gay Street. It creates a recording every time a noise registers above 86 decibels.
"We're able to go take that look at it ourselves and say, 'Okay, this is definitely a case of a vehicle that was either modified or just excessively revving their engine,'" said Carter Hall, the city's policy and business innovation manager. "We've seen it. We know exactly how it works and we know that it works really well."
He said they've created a report that could help inform the Knoxville Police Department when excessive noise violations are most common.
"Weekends tend to be the worst time, particularly Saturdays, around 8 p.m. and the following morning," Hall said. "So, Saturday rolling into Sunday, around that sort of 2 a.m., 3 a.m. mark."
Hall said the city intends to purchase the camera so they can continue using it to flag trends across the city.
"[Purchasing the camera] is also going to allow us to move it around the city in different commercial corridors," he said. "Right now, it's downtown. We could move it to Cumberland Avenue or wherever there's another noise hotspot."
Eventually, KPD could also choose to write citations based on the noise camera recordings.