StreetLight Captures Mobility Data Without Sensors


San Francisco, California-based StreetLight Data, a provider of transportation data analytics, has launched a new metric aimed at urban planners. The company is releasing an “Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT)” metric that will allow transportation planners to understand the aggregate traffic that passes through key points in their municipalities.

StreetLight works by aggregating data from more than 400 anonymous data providers, including information from cell phones, GPS, geospatial applications in order to create a picture of how populations move through cities and engage with infrastructure. At the center of StreetLight Data’s offerings is StreetLight InSight, an online platform for metrics reporting. With the AADT metric, users can then get an aggregate picture of mobility at specific locations in order to aid with transportation and infrastructure planning.

AADT estimates the average number of vehicles on a road per day. The estimate includes a full year of travel data (the company pulls from its 400 feeds monthly to update numbers and avoid decay).

“What we run into with transportation planning is that cities have a hard time pulling valuable data, they launch pilot projects but those are episodic and spotty and you can miss cyclical spikes in activity,” explains Laura Schewel, CEO, and co-founder of StreetLight Data, in an interview with CivSource. “With our data, we can give planners a view into their cities as people actually use them.”

According to Schewel, the AADT metric is one of several that are in the pipeline. The company is also exploring federal certification for the metric so that transportation planners can use the data as part of their federal reporting requirements.

“The cost for us to provide this data is significantly lower than running pilots or installing a sensor network,” Schewel adds. She says one of her goals for the company is to show that cities don’t necessarily need to install a large web of vulnerable sensors because much of the data they provide is already available. “What we can do for a couple hundred thousand dollars is going to be more than you will get from a million dollar sensor array,” Schewel contends. Even so, the company is working on ways to offer municipalities integration with existing sensor networks.

Looking ahead, the company plans to roll out a suite of metrics alongside AADT. “We are working toward offering bike and pedestrian data as well as an API,” Schewel says.