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Smartphone monitoring of in-ambulance vibration and noise

Partridge, Tom; Gherman, Lorelei; Morris, David; Light, Roger; Leslie, Andrew; Sharkey, Don; McNally, Donal; Crowe, John

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Tom Partridge

Lorelei Gherman

Roger Light

Andrew Leslie

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Professor of Neonatal Medicine and Technologies

Professor of Bioengineering

John Crowe


Transferring sick premature infants between hospitals increases the risk of severe brain injury, potentially linked to the excessive exposure to noise, vibration and driving-related accelerations. One method of reducing these levels may be to travel along smoother and quieter roads at an optimal speed, however this requires mass data on the effect of roads on the environment within ambulances. An app for the Android operating system has been developed for the purpose of recording vibration, noise levels, location and speed data during ambulance journeys. Smartphone accelerometers were calibrated using sinusoidal excitation and the microphones using calibrated pink noise. Four smartphones were provided to the local neonatal transport team and mounted on their neonatal transport systems to collect data. Repeatability of app recordings was assessed by comparing 37 journeys, made during the study period, along an 8.5 km single carriageway. The smartphones were found to have an accelerometer accurate to 5% up to 55 Hz and microphone accurate to 0.8 dB up to 80 dB. Use of the app was readily adopted by the neonatal transport team, recording more than 97,000 km of journeys in 1 year. To enable comparison between journeys, the 8.5 km route was split into 10 m segments. Interquartile ranges for vehicle speed, vertical acceleration and maximum noise level were consistent across all segments (within 0.99 m . s−1, 0.13 m · s−2 and 1.4 dB, respectively). Vertical accelerations registered were representative of the road surface. Noise levels correlated with vehicle speed. Android smartphones are a viable method of accurate mass data collection for this application. We now propose to utilise this approach to reduce potential harmful exposure, from vibration and noise, by routing ambulances along the most comfortable roads.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 11, 2020
Online Publication Date Jan 9, 2021
Publication Date 2021-04
Deposit Date Jan 14, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 14, 2021
Journal Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Print ISSN 0954-4119
Electronic ISSN 2041-3033
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 235
Issue 4
Pages 428-436
Keywords Mechanical Engineering; General Medicine
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