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Wellington City Council is preparing to roll out a new monitoring network to collect data on active transport to better inform effective, evidence-based decision-making in a cost-effective way.

Data collected by the new traffic counting sensors will include counts of different types of road users, paths of travel, and travel speeds, including cars, trucks, bicycles, scooters, buses and pedestrians.

The network will provide long-term, continuous monitoring 24/7, 365 days of the year and will enable the Council to make more accurate assessments of how people are moving through the city, making use of cycleways, and monitor in real time the impact of changes made to the transport network.

This higher quality transport data will inform transport strategies and, combined with other data sets, will directly lead to tangible benefits for key Council decisions. The data will be used by Council groups including Transport & Infrastructure, bike network planning, Community Services, waterfront team, Behaviour Change team, and also Let’s Get Wellington Moving.

Quality data can be used to make better decisions for events, urban design, public safety, and changes impacting the economic and retail environment, and this nationwide-first technology is an exciting step for the city, says Mayor Tory Whanau.

“As the city grows, use of space and transport become more vital to the liveability of Wellington, this kind of information is invaluable valuable for planning and designing our future.

“These VivaCity sensors gather data around the clock with a high degree of accuracy and anonymity, providing a much more detailed picture of how our public spaces are being used.”

Currently Council uses manual and bespoke pedestrian and cycle counts, electronic cycle counters, and commercial e-scooter ride data to understand people’s travel patterns.

These datasets established a baseline for long-term trend analysis, but the depth of insights gained are limited due to sample size and geographic coverage.

The lack of continuous monitoring also limits understanding of impacts from unforeseen events like earthquakes, tsunamis and COVID-19 as we currently only monitor during scheduled times.

VivaCity was selected because of its privacy-by-design approach in their monitoring solution. This project has also been through a Privacy Impact Assessment and consulted on with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

The data does not include any identifying information about the subjects monitored, says VivaCity Co-Founder and COO Peter Mildon.

“I strongly believe that the future of the Smart City has to be citizen-centric. We have designed our solutions from the ground up to guarantee the privacy of every citizen. The system was developed using data protection-by-design principles and is not just fully compliant with but exceeds the legal requirements in data protection legislation.”

Wellington will be the first major deployment in New Zealand, and the first city in the country to access the award-winning monitoring technology.

Instalment of the new sensor network is to start this month at an estimated cost of $1 million over five years. It is funded by repurposing existing funds (including leveraging the Waka Kotahi subsidy) from the previous decentralised and often more manual methods we used to collect data.

Traffic Counting Sensors Technology

The sensors use AI-powered computer vision to detect road users and decide which mode of transport they are using.

The Traffic Counting Sensors are small devices (about the size of a laptop) mounted onto street light poles. The device views the street via a camera, then classifies and counts roadway users in real-time. Video frames from the sensors are deleted nearly instantaneously, and only anonymous data is stored.

Locations of the Traffic Counting Sensors

The locations of the traffic counting sensors will be made available on the Council’s website and updated as additional sensors are installed.

Signage will be displayed to indicate where a sensor is mounted.

The city-wide traffic counting network will be rolled out over the next few months. The initial focus will be establishing the network in key areas in the CBD including some cycleways, and replacing the existing cordon counts (data collected) where this is required to minimise the disruption of moving to a centralised data collection approach.

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Quelle/Source: Scoop, 11.09.2023

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