Telraam invites local citizens to count traffic | So Good News
- Founders: Transport & Mobility Leuven, Mobiel 21, Kris Vanherle and Dave Drismans
- Year of establishment: 2021
- Employees: 6
- Money raised: €280,000
- The ultimate goal: to produce as many motion sensors as possible
Traffic counts cost governments a lot of money and are usually snapshots. Thanks to the Telraam project, citizens can help map local transport problems more accurately. You don’t have to do much other than stick a simple sensor on their window. This measures all the traffic that passes through. We spoke to Telraam co-founder Chris Vanherle about the startup part of the day.
What does Telraam aim to do?
“Traffic numbers have not been well understood until now. Telraam solves this by actively engaging with local residents and counting traffic well. We deliver research questions and technology. Citizens provide information. This will allow for more efficient installation of infrastructure, traffic lights and traffic plans.”
Where did the idea to create Telraam come from?
“When you talk about urban mobility, it’s always about the same things conduct a cut, air pollution and traffic safety. One of the frustrations of one of our founders, the Leuven Department of Transport and Mobility, has been the lack of traffic data for many years. Traffic counts are important in providing a basis for decisions. Measurements that capture cars, heavy traffic, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians are essential to be able to make better traffic plans. We have many useful ways to count traffic. Now many cities and towns are using our system.”
How does this work?
“Telraam has developed a sensor that includes software for traffic calculations. This is attached to the window, and then you can start counting. Telraam is very simple. All collected measurement data will then be made available to policy makers, researchers, and all local residents and stakeholders.”
What exactly does the sensor measure?
“It counts the number of passing cars, pedestrians and cyclists. The new sensor can also detect buses. In the case of cars, the system measures 90 percent accurately. The level of accuracy for pedestrians and cyclists is a little low, but enough to make a statement.”
What sensor are you using?
“The Telraam device is a combination of Raspberry Pi microcomputers, sensors and a low-resolution camera. The device is attached to the inside of a window on one of the floors facing the street. We have developed a new sensor that can also calculate motor traffic at night, although the accuracy will be lower than during the day. It is also easier to install. The updated sensor is expected to hit the market in early 2023.
How many Telraam units have been installed?
“We are approaching 4,000 Telram units, about half of which are currently active, mostly in Flanders. Projects were also developed in Wallonia. Since then we have also done a project in Utrecht. Other cities are also showing interest, for example Amsterdam. So far, we have branches in other European countries and other parts of the world, such as Canada and San Francisco.”
What does this mean for municipalities?
“Thanks to Telraam, municipalities can collect a lot of data. This is especially useful for small municipalities. It also allows citizens to collect a lot of data. This often gives them new insights into the objective traffic situation, where previously it was intangible and people felt only about the volume of traffic jams. This allows them to make a good case for their story to the city council. On the other hand, it makes discussion with citizens more objective. You can at least have discussions based on objective data.”
Can you give an example?
“For example, in Leuven there was one street in a thirty-kilometer area. Local residents have noticed that people drive too fast here. This was also confirmed by our measurements. After that, changes were made to the street, such as traffic signs and reduced speed limits. We immediately noticed the effect of these measures with the sensors. People started driving slowly.”
A new project, Telraam Talks, has been launched. What does this mean?
“Telraam Talks is trying to get local citizens more involved in mobility policy. This is a new, interactive platform for everyone who wants to work with Telraam data. Citizen scientists here are sharing their thoughts, asking questions and sharing best practices with other citizen scientists and mobility professionals. People don’t just count traffic on their streets with Telraam, they want to interpret and analyze those numbers. For example, they want to take action and be part of the solutions, so they can help reduce excessive speeding or excessive driving on their streets.”
Read other installments in this series here
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