In-home sensors survey traffic in European cities

In-home sensors survey traffic in European cities
Traffic sensors are being set up in homes in five cities across Europe in an attempt to learn more about traffic flow, according to an article on intelligenttransport.com. (Citizens Observing UrbaN Transport)

Traffic sensors are being set up in homes in five cities across Europe in an attempt to learn more about traffic flow, according to an article on intelligenttransport.com.

Called Citizens Observing UrbaN Transport (WeCount), the project is part of the European Commission-funded research project into sustainable economic growth. Designed to run two years, the project will follow participatory citizen science methods to co-create and use low cost, automated, road traffic counting sensors and multi-stakeholder engagement mechanisms in five pilots in Madrid, Ljubljana, Dublin, Cardiff and Leuven.

According to the article, the researchers aim to be able to quantify local road transport, produce scientific knowledge in the field of mobility and environmental pollution, and help design solutions to tackle various road transport challenges.

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The project also aims to provide cost-effective data for local authorities, at a greater scale than what would be possible in traffic counting campaigns, designed to open up opportunities for transportation policy making and research, the article said.

Professor Enda Hayes from the University of the West of England, Bristol, who is helping run the survey, said in the article: “Our data will be uploaded to the cloud so it can be seen by anyone, be that private citizens, the local council or NGOs.

“The evidence can be used in a number of initiatives relating to things like speed, noise, air pollution, safety and active travel. Hopefully it will place citizens in the centre of the debates on these issues.

“The sensor components are made by Raspberry Pi, standard hardware that’s available off the shelf. They are powered by a micro USB port, and it will connect to the WiFi in the person’s home, just like any smartphone or computer. Data is published hourly but the exact location of the sensor is not given, just the road it is on.”

Hayes was quoted as saying that while the overall goal is reducing air pollution, there will also be other initiatives in individual cities. “In Cardiff we’re aiming to put some near schools to study issues around the school run,” he said. “We’ll also be putting sensors on roads the council have already marked as problematic from a transport point of view.

“Overall we want to go beyond just data gathering. We want to turn these ‘citizen scientists’ into advocates who will use the data to work with employers, schools and local transport authorities to help drive forward healthier cities and healthier planning.”

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