Written by: Michael McGuire

 

Traffic Data Collection has become a prominent growth market over the last few years.  With the move to non-intrusive sensors and an increased appetite for big data analysis we’ve seen a number of innovations and new products emerge in this market.  Often one of the challenges with adoption of these systems is the price tag and complexity involved.  As one would expect, companies have recognized this and begun designing solutions to solve this problem.

One of the most innovative solutions we’ve seen comes from a Canadian company – Liveable Cities -which is a new division of LED Roadway Lighting.  Their new line of streetlight mounted sensors offers a very disruptive and compelling business model.  Liveable Cities offers a turnkey data collection solution that combines sensors with onboard LTE-M communications and robust cloud software that takes 5 minutes to install and starts working immediately.  Powering the sensors is easy as they plug into a NEMA socket on top of any streetlight and, better yet, they are sold using an As-A-Service model.  This means no capital costs, and no complicated fee structure.  Just one very low monthly fee for a sensor that can live on top of your streetlight forever.

 

The first sensor released, a radar count and speed sensor, is right up our alley and that’s why we’ve partnered with Liveable Cities to offer it across Ontario and Quebec.  This sensor collects vehicle speed and volume information on 1-4 lane arterial roads and offers the opportunity for very large, widespread deployments due to its low cost.

The data resolution collected by these streetlight sensors does not compare to traditional count stations, but it provides valuable information that will compliment traditional data collection systems wonderfully. Instead of tens of count stations, you could have hundreds of these sensors for the same price. With that many you begin to capture municipal level traffic patterns.  Imagine watching a heatmap replay video of how congestion fluctuates throughout a day, you could visualize the hot spots as well as the various side-road shortcuts people try to use to get around it.

It’s interesting to think about the various ways this data could be used. It’s comparable to what big data companies have been promising over the past few years, a massive data set able to perform on-the-fly traffic studies and analysis anywhere in your city.  However, we’ve seen these datasets disappoint, with low sample rates, ambiguous data sources and other challenges.  As we’ve seen in the Bluetooth/Wifi travel time sensor space, big data is not quite there, and most cities are still opting to deploy their own sensors.  We’re excited to see how streetlight sensors from Liveable Cities will change big-data analysis of traffic pattern in cities.

 

The disruptive nature of this product starts to become clear when we talk about the costs involved.  These sensors cost less than your cell phone bill every month, and there’s no upfront costs. The analogy with a cell phone contract is pretty apt, the cost of the hardware and software are blended into the monthly rate and after the first 6 months, you own the hardware and can cancel anytime you want.

This is a brand new product and we’re excited to test it.  This sensor is also the topic of our next monthly webinar as it’s a very compelling new concept. At Stinson we’re all about standing behind the products we offer, including testing them ourselves before we sell them to a client.  We’re actually in the midst of a number of pilot test deployments with cities and the early data is looking very promising.  If you’d like to join in and test drive a few sensors give us a shout and we’d be happy to discuss this with you.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join us for our webinar next month to take a deep dive on what this new sensor solution can offer.