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Eye in the sky helps with active transport

Published: 7 July 2023

Te Awa camera

Sharp-eyed locals may have noticed new cameras on poles around the city. They are an important tool in preparing Napier to be more accessible and help promote active transportation modes such as cycling, scootering and those heading off on foot.

The four cameras don’t record video nor collect any personally identifiable data. Instead, they act as visual sensors, with edge processing that recognises objects and classifies them as a cyclist, a person on a scooter, or a pedestrian. Transportation professionals can then use the real-time data to make decisions about road use and design. Napier City Council uses the information and also shares it with Waka Kotahi NZTA.

Tony Mills is one of the transportation team at the Council who will use the data in future planning.

“If you look up at the cameras, you’ll notice they only look down, not out, so they can’t see faces or any identifying features, nor do they capture any video. What they are doing is counting and classifying how many people, bikes and scooters are using a section of road, how fast they’re travelling, when it’s busy and when it’s not, which direction people are moving in at what time of day,” Tony explains.

One of the cameras is in place in Te Awa. The data it collects will be used to help plan transportation solutions that help make the roads safe for children going to and from school.

“It’s an area where a lot of the commuters are kids, and it’s very important that they can bike, walk or scoot to school. That has health benefits and is better for the environment,” says Tony.

“The cameras count track, and trend the movement of people, vehicles and objects,” explains Tony. “They are really useful to us when we are making decisions about how we allocate space to each mode of transport.”

The cameras will be in place, providing essential data for decision making, for the next three years. The project budget is $40,000 and is funded through MBIE’s Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit funding.

More information: Why we collect active modes data in New Zealand | Counting & Journeys | CountCulture

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