Digital traffic counter Telraam provides valuable data for well-founded mobility solutions

Posted on 22 Jun 2022

(image (c) Telraam)

Air pollution, traffic safety and cut-through traffic are themes very close to the heart of residents in any municipality or town. Measurements that record cars, heavy traffic, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians are essential for improving the viability of traffic, without compromising our mobility.

Traffic counters are the basis for a dialogue between citizens and the road manager (in Flanders: the municipality, town or Roads and Traffic Agency). Traffic counters can be used to propose interventions aiming to draw up or improve mobility plans, for example, or sub-projects such as reducing through traffic, better alignment of road diversions, improved cycling infrastructure and more efficient traffic lights.

Current traffic counting (using the black rubber counting hoses put up above a road) often takes place using a temporary setup and seldom records all the methods of transport. This makes them more expensive and they produce more limited insights to boot. The start-up Rear Window from Leuven wanted to change this, so it developed their digital traffic counter ‘Telraam’ (Abacus).

Wouter Florizoone, Business Development Manager of Rear Window, explains: “Our traffic counter has nothing but advantages compared to the classical counting hoses. Telraam counts four different modes (pedestrians, cyclists, cars and heavy traffic). Moreover, Telraam measures devices for a long time, providing further insights. In addition, it is a cheaper solution than the classical measurement methodology given that the majority of facilities are installed in collaboration with citizens. This reduces the installation costs.”

How does Telraam work?

Telraam makes use of a combination of technologies. Florizoone: “Telraam works in accordance with the principles of edge computing. With edge computing, the data produced by the IoT (Internet of Things) devices is processed by the device itself, or on another device in close proximity.

The Telraam device itself is a combination of a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, sensors and a low-resolution camera. Citizens, schools and companies can install the traffic counter - a small, black box with a camera - on the inside of a window, on one of the first few floors with a view of the street. In order to be able to send the traffic counting data to the central database immediately, the device requires a continuous WiFi connection to the Internet. The little box counts how many pedestrians, cars, lorries or cyclists are passing by, while also detecting the direction of travel and the cars' average speed. The system detects the impact of roadworks, diversions, cut-through traffic, excessive speed, etc., and visualises that data on a web platform accessible to everyone (www.telraam.net)."

The data generated by Telraam gains further value through the transparent visualisation of the counts at a district and neighbourhood level at www.telraam.net. Anyone can see how the traffic flows are moving through a district, municipality or town. Residents and the road manager can enter into dialogue about the needs and any changes to functionality for better traffic viability. Professional users such as knowledge institutions, consultancies and local authorities have access to the network through secure dashboard applications.

Thanks to citizen science

“Above all, the citizen involvement is huge added value,” according to Florizoone. “It is the residents who supply the data that local authorities can then get to work on. This citizen science has been gaining ground in recent years. Initiatives have since become more professionalised into a full-fledged data collection method. At ‘Measure It Yourself’ on the site, anyone can discover where Telraam is already counting, how to sign up or how to set up your own counting network.”

A new sensor will be brought to market in late 2022 that will be able to count even more modes, including at night. “We are also paying a lot of attention to the sustainable production of our counters. We use 3D printing and circular principles for casing & packaging for this, and finally, the counter consumes very little energy when in use.”

Telraam currently has more than 1,800 measurement locations up & running in Belgium, as well as in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and even the US, among other places.

About Rear Window

Rear Window is a spin-off initiative by TML, Mobiel 21 and Waanz.in and was developed with the support of the Smart Mobility Belgium fund from the Belgian federal government and the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 from the European Union as part of the WeCount project, under grant agreement no. 872743.

www.telraam.net

Other interesting articles

E-Trucks Europe is the first Cleantech Hero in Mobility

Posted on 20 Apr 2022

Cleantech Report 2022: Flemish cleantech companies grow, also internationally

Posted on 23 Mar 2022

The Cleantech Collaborations Day: It’s All About People. And Partnerships. And Peels.

Posted on 30 Nov 2021