TrafficCOM Seeks Funding To Democratize Traffic Counts

By Mary Lauran Hall on April 02, 2013


Data on car and bicycle counts can be notoriously difficult to obtain. Sometimes the data don’t exist at all, and it can be a costly, uphill battle to encourage public agencies to spend the necessary dollars to install traffic counters. Even when traffic counts have been performed on a given street, the resulting data are often tightly controlled by private groups or public agencies.

Enter TrafficCOM, a nifty low-cost traffic counter that has the potential to democratize traffic counting for more transparent planning on neighborhood streets. The system itself is both hardware and a software platform — the hardy portable counter looks like something born in a space age lego factory, and it easily plugs into a USB port to feed its findings into an open database and map of traffic counts.

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A TrafficCOM counter can be strung along a lane of traffic…

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...to count number of cars or bicycles and average speed.

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The device plugs into a computer’s USB port…

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...to upload data to a mapped database of other traffic counts performed with the device.

TrafficCOM isn’t in production yet — its inventors have launched a Kickstarter campaign to distribute beta versions. Start-up funding will help the inventors finance beta versions of the device to meet demands from departments of transportation and advocates. 

 

Aurash, one of TrafficCom’s creators, recently visited the Alliance office to show us a prototype. The visit got me thinking about how helpful a low-cost traffic measuring device could be for biking and walking advocacy organizations. A simple $200 portable device for measuring traffic and speed could make it much easier for advocates and community leaders to make data-based arguments about street safety. Imagine being able to easily measure average car speed on a particularly problematic street, or being able to quantify just how popular a new bike lane is. Plus, the system’s corresponding online database provides benchmarks for comparison in other communities.

While the system does have early kinks and drawbacks — for example, the counter can count car or bicycle traffic, but can’t differentiate between the two in a mixed lane — it’s a promising development for anyone who believes that transportation planning should be a more open, evidence-based process.

If this sounds like a worthy project, we at the Alliance encourage you to support TrafficCOM’s Kickstarter campaign.

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