Quantified Community: Using population sensors instead of wearables to track health

A sensor is born.

Center for Total Health Eco Counter 51701
Center for Total Health Eco Counter 51701 (View on Flickr.com)

This isn’t one you wear on your body, your sidewalk/trail wears it.

Ours was installed in early January and it’s been feeding us data ever since, 24/7, about the movement of pedestrians up and down 2nd Street NE, in downtown Washington, DC.

It measures demonstrators walking home from the United States Supreme Court.

Pedestrian Movement on 2nd Street NE, Washington, DC USA 52363

(click to play with interactive chart)

It measures innovators on their walking meetings.

Pedestrian Movement on 2nd Street NE, Washington, DC USA 52364

(click to play with interactive chart)

It doesn’t ask for login credentials or assign ID’s to anyone – a person is a person.

No devices need to be issued to anyone, no customer service, USB dongles, bluetooth pairing. It just works. And it tells us that a LOT more people are walking this sidewalk than we realized – up to 1,200 people a day.

Pedestrian Movement on 2nd Street NE, Washington, DC USA 52365

(click to play with interactive chart)

Now, imagine you take a few of these and connect them into a network. And then you work with employers and communities to promote active transportation and living:

Center for Total Health Eco Counter 51675

Happy together / data at last – Metropolitan Branch Trail, Washington, DC USA (View on Flickr.com)

Now the Rails-to-Trails (@RailsToTrails) Conservancy is getting serious about collecting detailed information about how people use urban walking and biking trails. With a new project they say “may forever change how non-motorized transportation facilities are prioritized in American cities.” (via StreetsBlog USA)

Tracking the trail: Sensors on Mount Vernon path collect data to aid transportation planning – The Washington Post

Trail Modeling and Assessment Platform (T-MAP) | Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

I dreamed of this in 2013 for our Center for Total Health and now it’s happening (see: Hacking Community Walking Data with the Arlington, Virginia, Mobility Lab). Thanks, Rails to Trails and Tracy Hadden Loh, PhD (@busysparrow) for helping us live in the future.

What do you think? In the meantime, as we say now, more data to come…. 🙂

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