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GCN : August and September 2016
How cities use data to plan bike routes Communities used to identify popu- lar bicycle routes by sending out city workers equipped with clipboards and pencils. But an increasing number of cities are now using data from video cameras and crowdsourced apps to track and plan the best way for bicy- clists to get around. For instance, Placemeter analyzes video feeds and applies proprietary computer vision technology to count cars, pedestrians and bicycles, but it does all that while still protecting in- dividuals’ privacy. Marketing Director Melissa Sanchot said that after the company launch in 2012, it was alerted to possible privacy issues with its continuous live video feed. “A lot of people were saying, ‘Wait, you are using video feed. People can be identified.’ Now our computers only store shapes so we know what kind of traffic is moving in an area.” The system saves the shapes of peo- ple, bikes, trucks, cars and even dogs, but it does not save the actual video. “It can’t even be used for security reasons because we don’t have it,” Sanchot said. Placemeter measures each shape’s trajectory to help cities learn where bi- cyclists are going, what they are doing, where are they making turns and how fast they are going, Sanchot said. That information helps city councils — in- cluding Placemeter clients in Philadel- phia, Boston and Washington, D.C. — decide how much money to set aside for bike routes and where the invest- ments should be concentrated. In New York City, Placemeter is help- ing officials understand pedestrian traffic, primarily so those interested in opening small businesses can de- 38 GCN AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 • GCN.COM LABS.STRAVA.COM An increasing number of cities are turning to cameras and apps to map out bike lanes, and the benefits extend beyond happy cyclists BY SUZETTE LOHMEYER 0916gcn_038-039.indd 38 8/31/16 9:03 AM
June and July 2016
October and November 2016