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CityNet—Deep learning tools for urban ecoacoustic assessment

Fairbrass, AJ; Firman, M; Williams, C; Brostow, GJ; Titheridge, H; Jones, KE; (2019) CityNet—Deep learning tools for urban ecoacoustic assessment. Methods in Ecology and Evolution , 10 (2) pp. 186-197. 10.1111/2041-210X.13114. Green open access

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Abstract

Cities support unique and valuable ecological communities, but understanding urban wildlife is limited due to the difficulties of assessing biodiversity. Ecoacoustic surveying is a useful way of assessing habitats, where biotic sound measured from audio recordings is used as a proxy for population abundance and/or activity. However, existing algorithms systematically over and underestimate measures of biotic activity in the presence of typical urban non-biotic sounds in recordings. We develop CityNet, a deep learning system using convolutional neural networks (CNNs), to measure audible biotic (CityBioNet) and anthropogenic (CityAnthroNet) acoustic activity in cities. The CNNs were trained on a large dataset of annotated audio recordings collected across Greater London, UK. Using a held-out test dataset, we compare the precision and recall of CityBioNet and CityAnthroNet separately to the best available alternative algorithms: four Acoustic Indices: Acoustic Complexity Index, Acoustic Diversity Index, Bioacoustic Index, and Normalised Difference Soundscape Index, and a state-of-the-art bird call detection CNN (bulbul). We also compare the effect of non-biotic sounds on the predictions of CityBioNet and bulbul. Finally we apply CityNet to describe acoustic patterns of the urban soundscape in two sites along an urbanisation gradient. CityBioNet was the best performing algorithm for measuring biotic activity in terms of precision and recall, followed by bulbul, whereas the Acoustic Indices performed worst. CityAnthroNet outperformed the Normalised Difference Soundscape Index, but by a smaller margin than CityBioNet achieved against the competing algorithms. The CityBioNet predictions were impacted by mechanical sounds, whereas air traffic and wind sounds influenced the bulbul predictions. Across an urbanisation gradient, we show that CityNet produced realistic daily patterns of biotic and anthropogenic acoustic activity from real-world urban audio data. Using CityNet, it is possible to automatically measure biotic and anthropogenic acoustic activity in cities from audio recordings. If embedded within an autonomous sensing system, CityNet could produce environmental data for cites at large-scales and facilitate investigation of the impacts of anthropogenic activities on wildlife. The algorithms, code and pretrained models are made freely available in combination with two expert-annotated urban audio datasets to facilitate automated environmental surveillance in cities.

Type: Article
Title: CityNet—Deep learning tools for urban ecoacoustic assessment
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.13114
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13114
Language: English
Additional information: © 2018 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: acoustic indices, anthropogenic, biodiversity assessment, convolutional neural networks, ecoacoustics, machine learning, soundscapes, urban ecology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064315
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