The demand for traffic data has never been so high in the traffic management industry. The problem is how do you collect this data and present in a format that is useful for transport planners and authorities to use? The collection of data also needs to seamless, automatic, and simple to use.
In January 2018, the Department for Transport conducted an independent review of the local transport data landscape to help support the Secretary of State for Transport.
The main challenges they found:
Cycling and Pedestrian Data
- Automatic Traffic Count sensors are not always able to distinguish between cyclists and motorcyclists.
- Manual cycle and pedestrian counts are expensive and only provide a limited snapshot of the landscape
- A lack of data prevents a comprehensive understanding of transport usage, inhibiting assessment of multimodal travel and the measurement of the return on investment (ROI) on projects.
For Traffic Data
- Private sector companies are interested in real-time traffic data from local authorities— but getting data from 150+ separate local authorities is a real challenge.
- Data needs to be standardised and sufficiently granular e.g. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra) need to understand vehicle classifications as well as traffic flow.
- Ageing local authority assets can result in poor quality traffic data.
The full report can be found here:
Back in 2015, when I was already considering these issues and working closely with Local Authorities it was clear to me that LA’s were struggling with pulling together the data they required.
Until recently the main source of data for transportation planners was from Induction Loops and Tube Counters. These counters can count and classify vehicles, but they are unable to count other road users, such as pedestrians crossing the road, and bicycles. They also were unable to collect data on turning movements at intersections, which had to be completed manually.
Today, there are several other ways to count traffic, and measure journey times, such as Google or dedicated roadside systems. A very important question for me is who owns the data and are there any restrictions on sharing (or indeed selling on) the data. I have made enquiries about Google and other 3rd parties who use crowd-sourcing data and I have not been able to establish who actually owns the data, and what you can do with it after you have purchased it. There are also questions about being able to access historical data, and the costs. There are advantages with 3rdparty systems in that it can be quickly set up and could be useful for short-term surveys. However, you have to consider your requirements, and how much control and ownership you require. So, is it better to pay for the infrastructure and hosting and have complete control and ownership?
One thing that was apparent to me was that the cost of new ways to collect data is prohibitive. This set me off on a journey to find something that can collect data, and have other uses. In 2015, I came across a company calledIteriswho are based in the USA. Iterishave a range of camera systems that have a primary function to detect traffic and pedestrians, connect to the traffic signals and control the intersection. What they also do is record data, (not in video format, so no GDPR issues) and save it on the device as a downloadable file. They can also live stream back to a control room. So there is now an option that can be simply incorporated into traffic signal design and allows you to maximise the utilisation of the asset. There are 3 ways to get at the data. Simply send an engineer to download it on site, use comms. to download it, or have it hosted. The first two options allow you to download the CSV file and input into another system for analyst. The third option is to use VantageLive!
VantageLive! is an easy to use, web-based data service that allows users to view intersection activity by automatically collecting and analysing vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian data. You can also collect turning movement count data and with this you have the potential to replace most or all temporary data collection equipment.
You can also collect and overlay Travel time and speed information from Iteris Bluetooth data collection devices which gives you an integrated view of speed and volume data for enhanced congestion investigation. Average Daily Traffic (ADT) can also be viewed and compared with Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT).
VantageLive! automatically provides regular updates without any effort from the user. Data from IterisVantage platforms is collected and sent securely to the cloud. Information can then be viewed via a web browser by whoever needs it.
You can also get peak hour summary reports with peak hour factor calculations. These reports give you detailed information about turning movements and departing data that will quickly allow engineers and planners to optimise signal timing that was previously done with time consuming manual report generation. All pretty nifty!
So in summary VantageLive! gives you:
- Real-time communication status displays how intersections are performing.
- Nice looking, customizable reports and graphs readily available for export.
- Immediate access to vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian and intersection data on one convenient platform
- The data generated is owned by the user, not
And you can:
- View and download charts and graphs from collected data
- Export readily available traffic data reports in Excel, CSV or UTDF/Synchro
- Review of historical data analysis
- Have a dashboard map and communications page provide a complete view of intersection status and activity
- Seamless integration with Edge®, Vantage Next®, Vantage Vector®, Velocity® and VantageRadius® • Integrated Bluetooth® and/or radar speed combined with volume data
- View, compare and export ADT and AADT data
So, if you are looking for a product that can pull all your data into one system, provide traffic control on an intersection, and you own all the data that is generated come and talk to me about your requirements.