TrafficCOM is a hardware and software platform that allows anyone, from individuals and community groups to professionals and municipal agencies, to easily collect and share automobile and bicycle traffic count data.
It does this with low-cost hardware and an online map to which any user can quickly post and visualize their traffic counts.
The goals of this project are to:
- Increase information about who is using our streets so that more informed decisions about transportation systems can be made
- Create a map and open database of car and bicycle counts
- Increase accessibility to traffic counting tools
- Provide traffic data that can be layered with other information and meet needs not yet recognized by the project team
A priority of this project is for TrafficCOM to be useable and useful to a wide range of people, such as the following:
- Advocacy organizations that are tracking and organizing around transportation policy and enforcement issues
- Municipal agencies that need to fulfill traffic count mandates, and make decisions about the design, funding, and management of streets
- Community members who want information on car/bike speed and volume on their streets
- Researchers seeking the most recent and specific data
- Educators looking for tools that can support collaborative learning and action
- Event managers and merchants who want to make more informed decisions about access, parking, and other operational issues.
1) Deploy the TrafficCOMputer on a street or bike path
2) Count Automobiles Or Bicycles
3) Connect TrafficCOM to your computer with the included USB cable
4) Use the Data Uploader tool to extract the data with one click
5) Fill-out a quick Context Report and click Submit
6) You're mapped!
Tomorrow Lab will lead the hardware and software development for the next generation of TrafficCOM. Based on their Product Design, Mechanical/Electrical Engineering, and Design For Manufacture expertise, TrafficCOM will add to Tomorrow Lab's proven track record of making market-ready products.
Traffic counts are a point of contention in many communities. Either sufficient data does not exist, or the data is not freely shared by government agencies that collect it.
TrafficCOM is set apart from existing traffic counters in two ways:
1) PRICE: The high prices of traffic counters on the market prohibit some groups from purchasing them. At nearly 1/10th the price of comparable products, TrafficCOM can reach more people.
Empowering individuals and groups to collect and share their own traffic data can help make transportation system planning safe, sustainable, and efficient.
2) OPEN DATA: Traffic data that is currently collected is taken irregularly, and is not often shared with the public. With TrafficCOM, we hope to create the first live traffic count database that is free to access by anyone worldwide.
By making the data on the TrafficCOM website open, anyone can access and add to it for free.
The Open Data Handbook states that: It is already possible to point to a large number of areas where open government data is creating value. Some of these areas include:
- Transparency and democratic control
- Improved or new private products and services
- Improved effectiveness of government services
- Impact measurement of policies
- New knowledge from combined data sources and patterns in large data volumes
By donating to this campaign, not only will you receive a reward, you are supporting governmental transparency and public participation in transportation planning.
In keeping with the spirit of providing an open, decentralized, and community-based tool, we believe the Kickstarter platform is the perfect partner for this project.
Director of Cities and Transportation, Energy, and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
"Data collection is a chicken or egg problem. If you don't have it, you have to figure out a way to get it. Then the question is how do you start - do you start from the top-down or from the ground-up?"
Founder of Streetsblog.org, Visiting Scholar at MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning
"Data is power. On many occasions I've seen traffic engineers and agency officials use closely held traffic count data to shut down communities' efforts to make neighborhood streets more livable. TrafficCom will level the playing field and empower communities by making data accessible to everyone."
Paul Steely White
Executive Director at Transportation Alternatives
"Of the products I've seen out there, this has by far the most potential for opening up traffic measurement so that it becomes something that comes out of the real of the so-called expert and into the realm of the citizenry. By making traffic data not only something that is available to the public, but created by the public and mined by the public, this could really serve to put decision making where it should be, which is in communities."
Visiting Scholar at MIT Center for Civic Media
"This is one of the first times where we can potentially have an open and global dataset for traffic counting … And it's all together likely that the big win will be completely unexpected."
Co-founder of ZipCar
"Traffic Engineers who are trained traditionally often lack creativity in how they use data, but by crowd-sourcing data you can empower policymakers and other stakeholders to creatively implement data-driven changes."
TrafficCOM was first prototyped in August of 2012 as a method to quickly and inexpensively count bicycles by deploying the counter and then manually entering data to an online map. Since then, the accuracy and useability of the device has improved, including the addition of seamless data upload features.
TrafficCOM has partnered and learned from leading organizations in Russia, Chile, and in cities all around America on the deployment and data analysis of traffic counts. The device has also been recognized by such events the Urban Prototyping Festival in San Francisco and Ideas City in New York.
The existing website allows members of the TrafficCOMmunity to seamlessly upload and map their traffic counts for automobiles and bicycles, then share their data with the world. We have already mapped counts of over 7300 automobiles and 780 bicycles. Data on the website will grow exponentially after hundreds or thousands of units are distributed after this Kickstarter campaign.
We have developed a list of features for the next generation from our user community. The new TrafficCOM hardware will be mass-produced in order to improve durability, accuracy, and reduce the per-unit cost.
Your support will allow us create the following new assets and improvements to the existing system:
- Custom-designed, factory-produced housing with new internal circuit board.
- Aluminum extrusion assembly for more durability
- A locking loop so you can secure it to a street pole
- Rechargeable battery with longer life between charges
- Instant download of data at any time
- Users have an ability to create individual accounts where they can view their data analytics (trends over time)
- Increased support for browsers on PC and Linux (not just Mac)
- Customizable maps
- Enhanced data-visualization on maps for traffic count analysis
- Ability to upload images and videos
3) PDF Guide
- A beautifully-designed document showing transportation project case studies, best practices, and suggestions for how to apply the data you gather using TrafficCOM.
- Case studies showing users ways they can change their town or city for the better.
- Workshops are an important part of our mission to include education and collaboration in deploying TrafficCOM.
- The project team has led planning and design workshops around the world for TrafficCOM and other notable projects
- The ADVOCATE level pledgers will receive a poster done in collaboration with Ekene Ijeoma. He is an NYC based designer who does data-driven and generative design, development and research for clients such as Citibank, Google, IBM, Nike, UN and more.
The poster will be done using the same process of making data into art as seen here except with NYC's car/bicycle traffic data.
- March - Kickstarter Campaign launch.
- April - Kickstarter Campaign close. Form production partners.
- May - Mechanical and Electrical engineering of next generation product. Specify vendors for custom and off-the-shelf parts. Finalize Bill of Materials. Submit files for quote.
- June - Receive quotes. Finalize vendors. Submit files for production. Begin firmware improvements and testing.
- July - Website improvements and testing. Receive first articles from vendors.
- August - Receive mechanical and electrical parts. Assemble, test, and ship units.
Risks and challenges
TrafficCOM is a data collection device that needs to be extremely accurate and practical in order for it to reach its full potential. In order to ensure accuracy and practicality (durability), we need to conduct rigorous testing and engage deeply with our user community. Once we meet our funding goal, we will be able to accomplish the necessary testing and research in order to make sure this version of TrafficCOM meets its full potential. Most traffic counters have below a 5% error. We intent to meet or exceed this accuracy goal.
Having a committed set of early users is important to us. This is why we are launching a Kickstarter: to build a community. The TrafficCOMmunity has already and will continue to help us improve the product and meet the feature demands that users want most.
Due to minimum order quantities from our quoting factories, we need a minimum quantity of supporters to make significant strides. If we don't meet our goal, we intend to continue to pursue funding to produce TrafficCOM in other ways.
Delivery and production of hardware units is always tricky, especially when the products have not yet been made. One of the founding groups of TrafficCOM is Tomorrow Lab, who has experience with the design, engineering, sourcing, product fabrication and assembly oversight of dozens of commercial products.
During the process, we intend to keep all supporters and fans well-informed of our progress via the News section and Email updates on the TrafficCOM.org website.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)