Traffic Survey | Under The Hood
Traffic Survey Technologies
MetroCount CEO Mike Kenny shares his views on the traffic survey field and the importance of collecting accurate traffic data.
After 25 years in the field, I’d like to inform you – as impartially as I can – about the traffic counting technologies currently available.
We use 3 main technologies: pneumatic tubes for portable classifiers, and piezo axle or inductive loop sensors for permanent classifiers. Over the years we have investigated many technologies. In the interests of accuracy we only support these 3 detector types, as they will provide classification accuracies generally above 99% under all lighting, weather, temperature, and precipitation conditions.
There is no magic bullet for traffic management
Video, radar, sonar, laser, magnetometer, etc traffic counting instruments may appear convenient and “non-intrusive” – but some of the results are appalling under real-life scenarios.
There is no “magic bullet” to solve the problem of traffic data collection. For example, while voice recognition has reached a level of sophistication such that it’s now widely applied in smartphones and wearable technology, it’s still just unreliable enough that it hasn’t yet wholesale replaced the trusty keyboard – which still works 100% accurately.
Survey Accuracy counts!
Ultimately, the entire purpose of gathering traffic data with a dedicated system is to gather it as accurately as possible. Let’s face it: you can probably stay in your office and guess the numbers at an accuracy of at least 80-90%, based on the last traffic results! That’s very cheap and very fast but it’s not an estimate on which you can afford to base multi-million dollar infrastructure investments on. Therefore, systems that can’t demonstrate real accuracy for the entire year at close to 99-100%, could cost you severely: the effect of acting on inaccurate traffic survey data is not cheap nor convenient.
Traffic surveys are in essence a census, just like a population census, which every country does to efficiently allocate resources. Censuses usually require a significant degree of effort, but the power of knowledge afforded by that effort allows for legislators and authorities to make large-scale decisions they could never, in good conscience, have otherwise made.
Accuracy should be a number one consideration when reviewing available technologies for both your portable/temporary traffic surveys and your permanent/long term statistics. For portable classification systems, MetroCount is now the most popular recent equipment, being used in over 100 countries, with tens of thousands of counters constantly in use globally. This is a reflection of the ethos that drives our product development: a focus on accuracy and longevity in our traffic counters.