WeCount participates in POLIS Post-Lockdown Mobility webinar

29 May, 2020
Earlier this month, WeCount participated in one of POLIS’ webinars, as a part of a series prepared for its members, on COVID-19 and mobility, with a specific focus on planning mobility for post-lockdown.

Kris Vanherle, Researcher at Transport Mobility Leuven, delivered a presentation on WeCount, a citizen science traffic monitoring project. WeCount is an EU-funded project based on Telraam - a low-cost traffic sensor technology - which aims to monitor traffic levels in local areas and engage citizens in policy making. Kris explained how Telraam is an innovative solution for monitoring traffic, due to its low cost, reliable measurements, its ability to identify different modes of travel, and its direct engagement with citizens.

WeCount began in 2019 and is being piloted in five cities across Europe, with Telraam devices being rolled out in these cities in the coming months. Citizens in the five cities will play a key role in supporting the project, with Telraam devices in participants’ households gathering data on traffic levels in local neighbourhoods, with the ultimate goal of informing local policy decision-making on mobility. In Leuven, where WeCount has been trialled so far, up to 600 devices across the city are monitoring traffic levels. This has provided insights into the changing patterns of mobility during the COVID-19 crisis. For example, the sensors have revealed large spikes in cycling in Leuven, even surpassing pre-COVID levels in some instances. Additionally, data has shown that the easing of lockdown measures in Belgium did not result in large increases in traffic levels in Leuven, with only the number of heavy vehicles increasing significantly. Going forward, the WeCount project will play a key role in monitoring the changes in mobility as lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

Kris highlighted that data from Telraam devices is helping to solve local mobility issues in Leuven. A local initiative to tackle ‘rat-running’ in certain areas of Leuven is being aided by data from Telraam sensors, which can not only monitor modes of transport but also the speed at which vehicles are travelling. Kris also mentioned the value of Telraam for identifying changes resulting from specific incidents, such as local road closures or one-off events.

Kris closed by reiterating how important it will be going forward to monitor the impact of traffic post-lockdown to assess how people’s travel habits are changing over time. WeCount is showing how Telraam is an effective and low-cost means of monitoring traffic whilst offering valuable engagement with citizens. Kris highlighted that the five cities involved with WeCount will test the project on a larger scale until next year, and invited other cities and regions to reach out in the future to discuss how Telraam can help them in monitoring traffic.

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(Article first published at the Polis Network website on May 12th 2020)