Eye in the Sky

Washington Bike Law is helping a new company called Placemeter get accurate traffic counts that can not only specify bikes, people, cars, buses, but track their speeds and directions as well.  It can even count crashes and close-calls.

photo info

Today’s new technology post has a soundtrack… from 1982 (it sounds better than I remember and seems to be on-point here):

How is Washington Bike Law helping?  It’s not by coding I assure you!  Our office is merely a test location for one of the Placementer sensors… we’ve been monitoring the intersection of Second and Cherry for a few months now, including traffic on the Second Avenue Bike Lane.

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This new technology is starting to get press.  Fortune magazine and Fast Company just did stories on it and… 15 Minutes of Fame… our view over Second and Cherry is in both articles.

2nd and cherry

What about privacy?  Is the “eye in the sky” “The Man“?  Not really.  According to the Fast Company article, Placemeter “won’t use facial recognition to pinpoint individuals, nor will any people watch the video feeds. It is purposefully staying away from any security-related applications or customers … and couldn’t, say, help with a police search even if it wanted to.”

Who cares then?  We do.  Bike people.  Fast Company quotes Placemeter’s CEO Alex Winters as saying that bike activists interested in making the case for bike lanes could find it useful. “Typically, that kind of data has been out of reach for most community groups”.

Now how might more data be helpful in Seattle, land of process and little action?  Consider this recent PI headline:

Superyacht marina ownerclaims Seattle cycle track may threaten environment

The Yachties assert that the Westlake Cycletrack “will create unsafe conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and commercial business traffic.”

Having easy access to accurate data might help.  We don’t want more endless litigation like with the “Missing Link” stopping transportation improvements.

Perhaps it’s naive to think that facts could help resolve conflicts, but I am hopeful.  And, hey, right now “I am the eye in the sky…”