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Friday, November 9, 2012

This DIY Traffic Counter Could Change Everything About Transportation Planning [Atlantic]


This DIY Traffic Counter Could Change Everything About Transportation Planning
TrafficCOMSha
Thanks to Nate Silver, the results of Tuesday’s elections are being widely viewed as an affirmation of data wonkery, proof that non-ideological number crunching leads to solid analysis of real-time situations. But the question remains: How do we get more of this good data? Not just about politics, but about the real-world problems that politics are supposed to solve?
Those are the kinds of questions that preoccupy people like Aurash Khawarzad, a New York-based urban planner with his own studio, Change Administration, and Ted Ullrich, an engineer and industrial designer at Tomorrow Lab. Together, they've come up with a lightweight, inexpensive solution for one of the most pressing data-collection needs in the urban portfolio: traffic frequency and speed. (Full disclosure: Khawarzad is a former co-worker of mine.)
The little orange gizmo with a tube attached is called TrafficCOM (that’s COM for “community” and “computer”), and it allows users to measure the volume, rate, and speed of traffic on any street, then upload the data for immediate sharing.

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