UCD’s WeCount traffic impact project begins journey in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

Citizens asked to take leading role in collecting data, evidence and knowledge of local mobility patterns
Image: WeCount

4 September 2020

Residents of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county in Dublin are being invited to participate in WeCount, a research project aiming to quantify local road transport, produce scientific knowledge in the field of mobility and environmental pollution, and come up with solutions to tackle various road transport challenges.

In addition to Dublin, WeCount pilot projects are taking place in; Cardiff, Leuven, Madrid, Barcelona and Ljubljana. The findings of the project will create new, low-threshold opportunities for transport policy-making and research.

Cities currently account for only 1% of the Earth’s surface. However, they also account for half of the world’s population, 67% of the global primary energy demand, and 71% of the global energy-related CO2 emissions.




Obtaining reliable and updated traffic data is fundamental to understanding the complex links between our urban infrastructure, transport systems and the livability in urban areas. Traffic counts help authorities and scientists make sense of urban mobility and are instrumental to assess its impacts and consequently improve planning.

Associate Professor, Francesco Pilla, UCD School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy and co-director, UCD Spatial Dynamics Lab, whose research expertise is in smart cities and the urban environment, is co-ordinating the WeCount Project in Dublin.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown residents can become involved in the project by hosting a sensor at the front of their property. Placed at a window with a clear view of the street outside, the sensor will count cars, bikes, pedestrians and heavy vehicles, thereby helping to build a traffic profile of the local area.

The sensor will also monitor local air pollution, to establish a direct link between traffic and local pollution and build a stronger argument towards sustainability.

Associate Francesco Pilla said: “WeCount aims to empower citizens to take a leading role in the production of data, evidence and knowledge around mobility in their own neighbourhoods, and at street level. The concept is simple, with a sensor in combination with a low-cost computer and software, anyone can count the traffic in his or her street. And with this measurement data, an individual citizen or a group of citizens can collect evidence towards more sustainable local mobility and increased liveability in their area. We will be working in close collaboration with all the local communities interested in being involved to provide them with the tools to hearing their unheard voices.”

Robert Burns, director of infrastructure & climate change, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said: “I welcome the opportunity to raise awareness of the work that UCD are doing on this dynamic project in Dublin, as part a larger programme across other European cities, that aims to foster a ‘bottom up’ approach to gathering and analysing local traffic data.”

“As the Council continues to develop and implement active travel schemes, in particular cycling and walking projects, the data obtained from WeCount project will enhance our local understanding of traffic and travel patterns and related impacts on air quality, climate action and quality of life across our County.”

It is intended to host online community workshops in September 2020, with the aim to deploy the sensors to residents from October 2020.

WeCount is funded through the Innovation Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative.

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