A tool that allows anyone to easily collect and share automobile and bicycle traffic count data. Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on April 17, 2013.
About this project
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
Yes, please notify us that you need a receipt.
Yes, anyone can use TrafficCOM.
Yes, anyone can use it. While government may have their own counters already, they can supplement their ability to collect data by acquiring the TrafficCOM device, or by simply accepting/using data generated by other people who are using TrafficCOM.
Yes, as far as we can tell.
TrafficCOM is lower in cost, and the data is open, meaning it is not controlled by transportation agencies.
You can use the current version of TrafficCOM in most weather conditions, from 0 degrees - 100 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable. The plastic housing is water resistant but should not be submerged in water. Version 2 will include more durable housing and can be used in a wider variety of conditions.
Can I use this to figure out if my street needs speed bumps, traffic lights, or some other kind of infrastructure to improve the street for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers themselves?
Yes! Although keep mind that TrafficCOM is one tool out of a few that should be used. Other tools include talking to your neighbors and local planners to discuss the full range of tools and solutions.
Yes, you can choose to keep the data proviate during the data upload process. While the data will not be shared on the TrafficCOM website, the data is still logged in our database.
Yes, however we can not guarantee the accuracy of results. We encourage our community to experiment and refine the efficacy of the device. In the future, we will add comprehensive guidelines for usage.
Replacement air tubes will be available for purchase. The tube can easily be replaced by you.
Standard traffic counts are done for weeks or months at a time. Why does TrafficCOM only count only hours at a time?
We are trying to change the way people count traffic. We believe shorter counts done over 12 to 48 hours can be more relevant as they offer higher precision and help fill-in the gaps of standard long-duration counts done over weeks and months. With counts of shorter durations, you can observe the nuances of traffic which may be lost in standard long-duration traffic, for example morning vs. night-time patterns, the effects of wet vs dry weather conditions, or the effects of temporary events like a sporting event at the city's stadium.
We're not the only ones who are doing shorter counts:
As of 2011, the New York City DOT conducts 12-hour studies during weekdays 7am - 7pm for their bicycle traffic counts. Read more here (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/past-route-projects.shtml#2011).
The Massachusetts DOT conducts 48-hour studies for their highway coverage and classification counts. Read more here (http://www.mhd.state.ma.us/default.asp…).
It is up to you to ensure that the TrafficCOM is not stolen from the street. This means concealing it, locking it, or trusting humanity. We have not been made aware of a traffic counter being stolen to date. The next version of the device will have a security loop to allow you to lock it to a street fixure, such as a street sign post.
TrafficCOM is designed to count rolling vehicles (automobiles and bicycles). It is not designed to count pedestrians, however it does count pedestrians who step directly on the pressure sensitive tube.
The unit will have a rechargeable LiPo battery, allowing 36-72 hours of counting between charges. If it loses power, it will pickup counting where it left off.
The device counts one vehicle for every two axles that cross it, so if four axles move across the device it will count two vehicles.
The electronic unit inside TrafficCOM has a switch to toggle between Automobile mode and Bicycle mode. Set the mode before beginning your count. The modes toggle internal pressure sensitivity and average wheel base distances in order to more accurately calculate speed.
TrafficCOM uses average wheel base seperation distances of automobiles and bicycles. American cars have an average wheel base separation of 9.0 feet, and bicycles have an average wheel base seperation of 3.25 feet. The device counts the milliseconds between the first and second strike of the tube to calculate a rate (rate = distance / time). The overall value outputted by the device is an average of all readings in miles per hour.
Using the http://trafficcom.org/uploader utility, you can see live data including raw pressure reading, time, and tally count. Connect TrafficCOM to a computer via USB, connect to the device, and click 'View Raw Data' to enable this feature. Although the pressure reading is available for live view, it is not one of the parameters recorded in the memory for later retrieval.
We are working with the TrafficCOMmunity to develop improvements to TrafficCOM. In the future, wireless capability, solar power, and enhanced speed and weight readings will be added to the device. Your participation in the Traffic COMmunity will help us improve its accuracy, durability, and overall efficacy.
- (30 days)