What a year 2020 has been for Telraam!

Recap 2020 • Written by Kris Vanherle on 23 December 2020

As this unexpectedly challenging roller coaster of a year is coming to an end, we take a brief moment to reflect on Telraam’s successes and failures these past 12 months, and look forward sharing with you what we can expect from Telraam in 2021. We’ve had plenty of highlights, and we’ve had our struggles too. 2020 has been a wild ride for Telraam for sure.

Telraam entered 2020 with about 600 devices installed in the field. As 2020 is coming to a close, we’re now at around 1500 devices, of which approximately 900 are actively counting at this moment. Those figures sum up 2020 for Telraam: strong growth of the sensor-network, mostly in Flanders, but gradually also in Europe and - as of November - even globally with the first active overseas Telraam popping up in Canada!

In early 2020 we kicked-off our European project “WeCount”, starting Telraam-networks in Cardiff, Dublin, Barcelona/Madrid and Ljubljana and expanding the existing network in Leuven. The WeCount project allowed us to strengthen the platform, improve the support-materials, increase user engagement (Telraam Lab!) and develop a method to assist local authorities in setting up their own Telraam-networks. Especially in the second part of 2020, new networks have been set up in Halle, Turnhout, and Liège - just to name a few. We want to express our gratitude to these local authorities and appreciate the patience of our users, who’ve taken a risk by pioneering traffic counting with Telraam. It’s thanks to you, the early adopters, that we can continue to improve Telraam further, for citizens as well as for professional users.

Growth of the Telraam network until end 2020

Telraam’s growth in 2020 did not pass by unnoticed. We’ve had plenty of media exposure inside and outside of Belgium, with even the BBC reporting on the kick-off of the WeCount project in January. We’re also very proud to have won the award for “API of the year” in November against tough competition. These signs of recognition strengthen our belief in the importance of open data.

 Also, we demonstrated that Telraam is a useful tool to asses the impact of Covid-19 on our mobility. Our article in Thinking Cities was well received and shared extensively. Our “Covid-tracker” revealed that while car traffic decreased, bike traffic increased under lockdown, in what we feel is one of the most interesting examples of Telraam-based analysis in the past year: 

Needless to say, growth creates challenges. We’ve migrated to a more performant database architecture in early December, after many months of intense preparation. The initial structure was not designed to support such a large network, thus as we grew we had to build a future-proof, scalable backend as a complete replacement for it. We’re happy to see that the new architecture is providing the stability we are looking for, and our users will be happy to not notice any annoying server-outages in the future.

While we’ve made substantial improvements to the software and installation procedure, the sensor is not really “install and forget” yet. We still have a long way to go to improve the sensor. While most Telraam sensors seem to be providing good quality data (as a comparison to validation counts reveals), we also see some devices struggling to produce reliable data. 

Our policy on accuracy continues to be full transparency. All technology has an inherent inaccuracy and it’s important to make the inaccuracy explicit so you can interpret the data correctly. So for 2021, expect more tools to validate your Telraam with manual counting and expect more information on how to interpret Telraam data. That said, improving the accuracy of the sensor remains one of our key challenges.

2021 is promising to be another exiting year for Telraam. Most importantly, the initial founders TML, M21 & Waanz.in have agreed to spin-off Telraam as a legal entity in its own right. The objective of this new entity will be to further develop the platform, the sensor, and foster growth of the network. So, let it be clear, Telraam Is Here To Stay

A first challenge will be to make a major improvement to the sensor. We hope to provide you with some good news early 2021 as we set up a partnership to develop a completely new, more robust Telraam sensor, and hope to secure funds to finance this development soon. Stay tuned!

 We’ll be releasing new features that will focus on involving you, the Telraam user, more closely. We want you to be able to provide feedback on data, contribute to technical improvements, and enable you to engage with other Telraam users to create a true Telraam-community. Covid-19 has been a challenge in this respect in 2020, hindering direct engagement with you, the Telraam users. We’ll have to and will do better in 2021! 

So as 2020 is coming to an end, we are looking forward to 2021 with excitement and great anticipation

 Wishing you a warm festive season, 

Team Telraam