Library Installs Traffic Light Noise Monitor

By Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes

In November 2016, two battery-powered traffic signals, otherwise known as “Yacker Trackers®,” were wall-mounted in each room of the Tamalpais Library to monitor noise level. According to Melissa Bowman, Head Librarian, “noise level was my biggest concern during tutorials.”

Hans Gotto, the Assistant Librarian, said the left-hand side of the traffic light can be adjusted for decibel volume, and the right-hand side can be adjusted for the level of response. The louder the sound detected, the sooner the lights will change. As claimed by The Yacker Tracker®, you can “select the appropriate sound level for any given situation and let the Yacker Tracker® be an audio-visual reminder when the noise level gets too high.”

When green, the traffic lights indicate that student noise level is satisfactory. When sound level reaches 15 decibels above set volume, the lights will transition from green to flashing yellow. When the maximum decibel volume is reached, the lights will transition from flashing yellow to red, along with the sound of a car alarm and multi-lingual recordings of “Quiet Please.” Unless manually disarmed, the alarms will only stop once noise level returns to normal.

Other alarms connected to the Yacker Trackers®, such as the one on the back door of the library, will discourage students from using alternative exits. “However, the head custodian hasn’t activated the alarm in fear that it will be too loud and the librarians will not have the key to deactivate it,” said Gotto.

Days after it was installed, students expressed concerns about the traffic lights’ legitimacy in a school setting. “We’re already policed when we have a teacher in the classroom, we don’t need to be policed in our own independent workspace,” said senior Ashley Reid. “This is the type of thing that you might see in a third grade classroom.”

Some students believed that the lights encourage misconduct merely because they pose as a distraction. “I clapped my hands just to make the light turn red,” admitted senior Pierce Pennington.

However, Bowman “wanted to give everyone a standard” in a workspace where they could work and socialize when appropriate. “It has made people more aware in a positive way,” she said, agreeing that the traffic lights had improved noise level since installed.