New tech to take real-time snapshot of Wellington

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 15, 2023

Wellington City Council is preparing to roll out a new monitoring network to collect data on active transport to better inform effective, evidence-based decision-making.

Data collected by new traffic counting sensors will include counts of different types of road users, paths of travel, and travel speeds, including cars, trucks, bicycles, scooters, buses and pedestrians.

The network will provide long-term, continuous monitoring 24/7, 365 days of the year and will enable Council to make more accurate assessments of how people are moving through the city, making use of cycleways, and monitor in real time the impact of changes made to the transport network.

The Council said the transport data will inform transport strategies and, combined with other data sets, will directly lead to tangible benefits for key Council decisions. The data will be used by Council groups including Transport & Infrastructure, Bike network planning, Community Services, Waterfront team, Behaviour Change team, and Let’s Get Wellington Moving.

“Quality data can be used to make better decisions for events, urban design, public safety, and changes impacting the economic and retail environment, and this nationwide-first technology is an exciting step for the city,” said Mayor Tory Whanau.

“As the city grows, use of space and transport become more vital to the liveability of Wellington, this kind of information is invaluable for planning and designing our future.

The VivaCity sensors gather data around the clock with a high degree of accuracy and anonymity.

“The lack of continuous monitoring also limits understanding of impacts from unforeseen events like earthquakes, tsunamis and Covid-19 as we currently only monitor during scheduled times,” said Whanau.

Established in Australia, Wellington will be the first major deployment in New Zealand, and the first city in the country to access the monitoring technology.

Instalment of the new sensor network is expected to start later this month at an estimated cost of $1 million over five years. It is funded by repurposing existing funds, including leveraging the Waka Kotahi subsidy.

Traffic Counting Sensors Technology

The sensors use AI-powered computer vision to detect road users and decide which mode of transport they are using.

The Traffic Counting Sensors are small devices mounted onto street light poles. The device views the street via a camera, then classifies and counts roadway users in real-time. Video frames from the sensors are deleted nearly instantaneously, and only anonymous data is stored.

The development of the city-wide traffic counting network will be rolled out over the next few months. The initial focus will be establishing the network in key areas in the CBD.