Public Release: 

'The Dirty of Loudness' HKU student wins international GIS award

'The Dirty of Loudness' HKU BA (Urban Studies) student wins international GIS award with research on Traffic Noise Pollution in Western District

The University of Hong Kong


IMAGE: This is the spatial distribution of the total affected hours of the buildings in Western District, Hong Kong. view more 

Credit: The University of Hong Kong

Mr Kenneth Wong Kiu-ho, a Year 4 Bachelor of Arts student in the Urban Studies programme at the University of Hong Kong (HK), has won the Esri Young Scholars Award (YSA) 2017 for his entry "The Dirty of Loudness - Investigation on Traffic Noise Pollution to Residents in Western District". He has been invited to receive the Award at the 2017 ESRI User Conference in San Diego, California, in July that will be attended by over 16,000 scholars and representatives from the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) industry worldwide. His work will represent Hong Kong and be displayed alongside that of other Young Scholar winners from around the world in the conference.

Kenneth's research aims to identify the impact of traffic noise pollution on the residents of the Western District, and the results reveal that part of the buildings in Western District are exposed to serious traffic noise pollution. One of his research findings showed that traffic noise of about 60 buildings located next to the highway exceeded recommended standards all day.

The research area includes Tertiary Planning Units (TPUs) 1.1.2, 1.1.3, 1.1.5 and 1.1.6, which represent areas from Sai Ying Pun to Shek Tong Tsui. The study first used a mathematical model, with vehicle flow data provided by the Hong Kong Transport Department as a parameter, to calculate the noise generated by the traffic. GIS was then used to calculate the traffic noise at different times in different places in the district to analyse the impact of traffic noise to nearby residents. The research findings were represented in temporal GIS to show the variation of traffic noise level in one day.

With reference to the environmental noise standard stated by the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department (EPD), the road traffic noise planning standard in Hong Kong is L10(1 hour) = 70 dB, that is, traffic noise should not exceed 70dB by 10% of the total measuring time. However, what the study found was a scenario that considerably exceeds the standard:

  • In terms of about 1500 buildings in the study area, the major highways already affected around 40% of the buildings for at least an hour per day;

  • Traffic noise of about 4% of all buildings (amounted to about 60 buildings) located next to the highway even exceeded the standard all day ;

  • Preliminary estimation showed that nearly half of the population in the Western District experienced noisy traffic during peak hours.

This alarming situation poses severe health risks to the local residents.

The Young Scholars Award is an international Award launched in 2012 by Esri in the USA, the global market leader in Geographic Information Systems software, to recognize the exemplary works in geo-spatial sciences of undergraduate and graduate students at universities around the world. The contest for this Award was launched in Hong Kong for the first time this year in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Esri China (Hong Kong). This award (Hong Kong) was judged by a panel of nine GIS experts from the universities in Hong Kong and professional associations. In addition to the winning Award by Mr Kenneth Wong, four other Year 3 Bachelor of Arts (Urban Studies) students, (Chan Zi-tao, Choy Tsz-hin, Huang Chi-ho, Leung Sheung-hin) won the Merit Awards.

Kenneth would like to express his gratitude to Dr Kenneth Tang Siu-sing, who guided him throughout the competition and selflessly provide suggestions to the research. Kenneth would also thank Esri for holding this competition and providing him with a chance to gain a deeper understanding of environmental science and GIS. Kenneth is still perfecting his model. He is currently searching for a method to locate resident distribution in a more accurate manner. By considering more parameters like land use and the number of blocks, the spatial distribution of affected residents could be more accurate in reflecting the actual scenario.

Professor Anthony Yeh Gar-on, Programme Director of the BA (Urban Studies), is very happy that the new multidisciplinary studio-based programme with emphasis on design and multi-media communication skills and problem-based learning projects to equip students to become professionals in the built environment who can approach any problem from multiple perspectives has helped students in winning this competition.


Results of this Award and details of Kenneth's entry can be found at and (for his winning Story Map Presentation).

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