VivaCity versus Telraam

When one of our local councillors initially contacted our local Highways authority (Leicestershire County Council - LCC), their response to Telraam devices was pretty negative and dismissive.

At the same time we were told that LCC had “been working with similar types of equipment (using Raspberry Pi and Artificial Intelligence processing) since 2016. they said that they do have some of this AI counting infrastructure installed as part of their LCWIP Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans monitoring, although in that case the system was a far more refined (and subsequently costly) piece of kit permanently installed on street lighting columns.”

This person also referred to ‘to inherent flaws in the system which would lead him to believe that the device would not be suitable for traffic surveys’ when talking about Telraam.

They were dismissing the system yet claiming that they’re using something similar but more costly. I had to dig deeper.

Two replies to the person that dismissed Telraam went unanswered, he clearly didn’t want me to know any more about their systems.

I FOIed them and found out that they use Vivacity in 88 (!) locations. They wouldn’t tell me the costs though.

So I FOIed some other authorities that also use Vivacity and I am getting a better picture. (oh, VivaCity didn’t respond either, I tried LinkedIn, Email, Contact form and Twitter).

Monmouthshire has a scheme using these devices.

They didn’t give me a breakdown but said:
Total spend of £56,370, with no ongoing spend commitment.

Sunderland has 11 VivaCity sensors. Their accounts show a cost of £26,010 but it is listed twice with 2 different reference numbers so it may well have cost double. Even at a lower cost I make that ~ £2360 per sensor

I’m still waiting for an FOI in Bristol. I wrote to them:

Vivacity’s website states the following on Bristol is Using VivaCity Sensors to Monitor Cycling Trends - VivaCity

“In January 2021, six VivaCity traffic monitoring sensors were installed [by Bristol City Council] to support an in-depth evaluation before road changes became permanent in July 2021.”

"The on-going VivaCity data capture facility on Bristol Bridge is being used to help the project rationalise the road space now available since the Bus Gate project became permanent.
The evidence base provided by the VivaCity sensors will help decision makers to make the right call about managing the many modes that use this important junction.’

Please could you tell me how much was spent on Vivacity’s equipment and services as well as any ongoing costs. I’m particularly interested in the one-off cost for each of the six sensors as well as the license, maintenance or other fees that are paid to Vivacity.

This may be useful when you want to ask for funding of Telraam devices. VivaCity equipment looks great and can do more but it is also vastly more expensive and less flexible.

Remember, LCC uses 88 (!) of these and I estimate they spent hundreds of thousands on it. Which is great in a way as Leicester is improving massively in regards to active transport.
But there’s no need to shun Telraam.



Right, so they dismiss Telraam

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Hi Stefan,

This is a good point and I’m responding in length so it’s clear for you and other Telraam-users to understand how we try to position Telraam in the traffic counting landscape.

Quite often we encounter Vivacity (or similar technology providers) when we introduce Telraam to local transport authorities. Using high-end camera systems for accurate traffic counting makes total sense. However, as you’ve found out, you pay the price for it. Those systems are at least 10x-20x more expensive compared to Telraam. (I know because I used to buy similar systems & data… :slight_smile: ). That’s why there’s not that many and they are mostly deployed on major roads only.

Now, I’m a transport engineer myself, and I obviously prefer to have very accurate traffic counting data as well, but it’s not the whole story. Doing traffic counts within budget constraints is the real question.

There are many cases where I, as a transport engineer, would prefer to have 10-15 counting points with lower accuracy vs. 1 counting point with high accuracy data. For example, if you want to see if an intervention on one street (LTN, introducing a one-way street, School Street…) has a spill-over effect, you need to measure multiple points. If you’re a traffic engineer/consultant, good luck securing 30-50k budget on monitoring equipment. :slight_smile:

In those cases, Telraam is useful, because it’s simple and low cost. Also, the engagement of a local community, discussing a local transport issue is in fact an advantage with Telraam (at least for local authorities who’re serious about citizen engagement…). That’s how we try to pitch Telraam to local transport authorities: engage the citizens, who you’re having a conversation with anyway, in monitoring the impact of (hyper)local interventions that affects them directly, in an affordable way.

There is no point discarding concerns about accuracy of Telraam. Telraam IS a low-cost device, and it IS not as accurate as high-end systems. I would hope Vivacity (and others) to have a better performance. For that price, one would expect it…

Our philosophy is total transparency, also on data quality. You CAN check the performance of the system (live counts on screen!) and we provide guidance on how to best use (and not use!) Telraam data. Obviously, that makes Telraam more vulnerable to be dismissed as unreliable, but I personally belief there is no point pretending/hiding.

I like to see Telraam as a complement to Vivacity-like technology providers. As a transport authority, I want high quality data on main roads. I also understand budget constraints don’t allow that type of tech to be available on every road. Also, as a transport authority, I wouldn’t accept being completely in the dark in the smaller residential roads and so I would accept lower quality data (i.e. Telraam) over no data at all.

So, for that reason, I also don’t want to talk bad about Vivacity. In a world with higher priority on traffic impact analysis and collecting traffic counting data for that purpose without budget constraints, I’d install one of these on nearly every road! :blush:

We’ve actually been in contact with Vivacity before, be it very briefly, but I think they understand we’re trying to do different things. Telraam doesn’t want to and cannot replace Vivacity-like tech.

To conclude, I can share also for us it’s not an easy sell and we’ve had equally dismissive feedback as you’ve had with LCC, mostly from higher-level transport authorities who’re having bigger budgets for monitoring and are thus focused on high-end monitoring tools. That said, there’s as many, mostly local transport authorities who understand the value Telraam can bring, for uses in situations I listed above.

Keen to hear thoughts from others, as this is touches upon the very essence we want to do with Telraam.


Very good, thanks for the detailed reply.

I agree, having more accurate monitoring in place would be great but as you have pointed out is unrealistic. VivaCity’s devices look great but they are not as transparent on any aspect of their equipment which immediately makes me wonder… why aren’t they?

Telraam is a great tool that allows virtually anyone to get started acquiring useful data.

What isn’t measured cannot be improved - and 99% of places do not appear to measure anything. Even where speed activated signs are deployed, they often do not log the data.

The most accurate measurement we currently have locally is ‘people say traffic is bad’ :smiley:




Indeed. Let’s hope we can convince more people!

about this:

I’m pretty sure they’ve got validation counts done by external parties. Most contracts for monitoring on main roads have a set requirement on accuracy in the tendering procedures, so the contractor need to demonstrate they achieve that accuracy. However, the method of validation is not always well described and accuracy in itself is a fluid concept: offset to ground truth per min/h/day, overcounts/undercount/misclassification all relate to accuracy but they are computed differently and for different application some inaccuracies are a problem while others are not.

I’ve seen providers of pneumatic tubes claiming 3% error margin. Never seen a validation report though and I did validations myself to find an offset of 30%, so yeah… Very often these validation tests are done in optimal circumstances, so they’re not per se useful to actually understand accuracy in real world situations.

Again, for us that’s a reason to be completely transparent. You’re getting the unfiltered, raw data, with all its flaws and inaccuracies. Depending on what you’re going to use the data for, different post-processing steps are needed.

That said, I’m sure Vivacity is producing fairly accurate data and they will have decent validation reports, but they’ll probably only share those with professional clients. However, as it’s a camera-based system, VivaCity tech will be equally prone to all the problems that plague any camera-based system: obstructed view, object clustering, missed detection due to direct counter sunlight,…
They’ll have better ways to deal with it compared to what we can do on our compute-constraint Telraam device, but if for example a parked truck or a bird is blocking the view on the street you want to count, no matter how good your camera is, count will be bad :slight_smile: