3 Ways Pedestrian Counts Can Change Our Cities For the Better

Technology is a constant in society, and enhances our lives in ways we’re not aware of every day. The use of sensor technology to monitor pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle traffic, particularly in central business districts, is an important part of city planning and design. It can inform a range of decisions for city government as well as private businesses.

The American Planning Association endorses the use of pedestrian counts for all types of city planning considerations. According to this group, the counts can be applied to improving city centers in 3 areas: mobility, safety, and pleasure.



How easily pedestrians can move around in the city depends on several factors:

Conflicts with vehicular traffic – here pedestrian counts are very useful in determining where to install traffic lights, and determining the signals’ timing as well as whether to include pedestrian prompts, such as the Walk or Don’t Walk signals. A low pedestrian count at an intersection might be used to justify installing a flashing light rather than a timed traffic signal.

Sidewalk congestion- an overly congested sidewalk can force people to slow down or spill over into the street.  Pedestrian counts help planners avoid this issue by providing sidewalks of appropriate width, based on the typical traffic for the area.

Availability of pedestrian routes- Using land inefficiently can cause pedestrians to take longer routes than necessary to their destination. Pedestrian counts help planners identify destinations and provide optimized routes to get people where they want to go, safely and efficiently.



The most important factor in pedestrian safety is the amount of conflict with vehicular traffic.  Pedestrian counts can be used to study how people are responding to traffic signals. They’re also used to compare the rate of pedestrian and vehicle accidents related to the sidewalk traffic at a particular location.  They can tell planners whether a given intersection has a greater than average percentage of jaywalkers, which indicates that improvement is needed to make that crossing more efficient and safe.

A great example of the use of data to improve safety is the Vision Zero Initiative, a multinational effort that focuses on reducing pedestrian and vehicular fatalities.  These efforts look at how traffic calming and rerouting projects can impact pedestrian and vehicle traffic trends, and ultimately what patterns might be higher or lower risk.  Deployment of pedestrian counting technologies like Motionloft can surface these patterns in real-time.  



Being a pedestrian can be a very enjoyable experience, if the district is well planned.  How the routes are laid out can greatly enhance the pleasure and comfort of walking in the city. Things like canopies, trees, and artwork are strategically placed using information that includes pedestrian counts.


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City Garden, St Louis, MO


A great example of a well planned public space is the City Garden in St. Louis, MO.  The park design took careful consideration of utilization of space by taking pedestrian counts, and in-person observation methods to appropriately design the placement of art pieces and the parks lighting.  By taking these factors into consideration the city created a public space that naturally invites visitors to enjoy its space.

Data on pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic is becoming more widely available, and it’s useful in many areas besides city planning. Management of events that temporarily increase congestion in a given area is made much more effective when these counts are considered. Businesses can make better decisions when they’re selecting locations for retail stores.

Cities use pedestrian counts to help determine downtown property retail values, and chart their overall rise and decline as well. For private business, the uses for this type of information are just starting to be explored. It is already an important tool for planners, and probably has an effect on each of us every day, whether we’re aware of it or not.


Motionloft Expands Presence to Mexico

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Motionloft has gained a full service sales office in Mexico City as well as extended coverage to over 18 states in the country of Mexico with the relationship of newly created Motionloft MX (MLMX). The Motionloft global solution has installation, connectivity and immediate data delivery to a new market and client base.

In addition to the applications used by the United States customers of property owners, retailers and cities, Mexico offers unique opportunities with shopping centers, public government and private infrastructure.

“Motionloft Mexico has an incredible opportunity in three main sectors, FIBRAS (REITS); global retailers, and businesses whose income depends on understanding traffic flow of people and vehicles,” said Eduardo Neuman, founder of MLMX.

Since the 2010 authorization for FIBRAS (REITS), Mexico has experienced a real estate boom in shopping centers all across the country. In Mexico City alone, with over 20 million inhabitants, there are more than 6.5 million square meters (65 million SF) of commercial space, 33% of the national total. Infrastructure in Mexico uses private businesses for public parking lots, and highway toll booths. Motionloft technology can replace the current manual solutions used, with great accuracy and real time data. For government applications, Motionloft will provide studies to determine traffic patterns in order to provide the basic public services such as housing, public transportation, metro and hospitals.

“We’ve created an opportunity for organizations to see a dashboard view of what’s happening around them,” said Mark Cuban, American businessman, investor, and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. “Combining our advanced analytics systems with the exploding need in Mexico creates a game-changing solution for counting vehicle and pedestrian traffic.”

Why You Should Care About the Lack of Pedestrian Data



Our industry is, at its core, about people and how they use space. This fundamental idea drives our quest for information that will aid us in making the best decisions to move the business forward.

One area that is getting increased attention is the importance of an accurate picture of traffic around a given property, be it retail, office or residential. Understanding peak times as well as where the people are coming from can inform decision-making and help avoid costly mistakes.  Traditionally, vehicle traffic is the most commonly counted, and this task was left to local government and departments of transportation.  Although the data might be accessible to business, they are usually not kept up to date and do not accurately reflect traffic volumes in developing areas. Another aspect of an area’s traffic –pedestrian activity- has mostly been overlooked and certainly under-utilized by commercial real estate.

A 2014 Transportation Research Board report echoes the sentiment that a lot of valuable information is being missed when we fail to monitor pedestrian traffic:

“Many potential sources of pedestrian and bicycle volume data are not being used. The feasibility of using these sources, including addressing privacy and security issues and extrapolating to estimate 24-hour counts and annual counts, needed to be investigated. Once investigated, guidance for practitioners on the use of existing, new, and innovative methods and technologies could be developed.”

According to the report, non-motorized (including pedestrians and bicycles) traffic is different from vehicle traffic in these ways:

  • Volumes are more variable than motor vehicle volumes –this makes estimation much more difficult.
  • Trips tend to be shorter and for different reasons
  • Motor vehicles are easier to detect
  • Less work has been done in pedestrian counting than motor vehicle counting, and technology is more limited.

Government entities and other groups find pedestrian counts useful in tracking changes in activity over time, assessing the impact of new infrastructure, prioritizing projects, and understanding networks and potential volume for transportation. These same topics are useful in commercial real estate planning and development, and can inform decisions relating to investment and transactions as well.

Local and state governments recognize the importance of accurate pedestrian data to complete and informative data collection on a given area. It gives the real picture of how people use the city space and makes it easier to plan effectively and improve the area to benefit the people who live, work, and play there. It is the same for commercial real estate. Many of the considerations of city planners and transportation analysts are also important in our industry, and a lack of data puts us at a disadvantage.

Fortunately, sensor technology has developed rapidly over recent years, and it’s become a viable option for commercial real estate professionals as well as government entities. Around the clock, instantly available statistics are tremendously valuable, and sensor platforms like Motionloft add value to the data. They handle software and device maintenance, prepare reports, and provide comparisons between multiple properties.

In a world where knowledge is power, using technology to automatically generate the information we need to excel makes good sense. As the importance of pedestrian data to understanding the overall activity in an area becomes clear, look for continued improvements in services that deliver that knowledge in an efficient and usable way.


ICSC Western Conference Recap: What You Missed


We’re just back from an invigorating trip to San Diego for this year’s Western Conference and Deal Making, presented by the International Council of Shopping Centers. It was our first time participating in this conference, and we’re glad we could be there. Motionloft had a booth in the Convention Center, and a lot of our current clients stopped by to say hello. San Diego was a beautiful site for the conference, and the programs were excellent!

This conference is a gathering of people from all segments of retail and it’s a terrific opportunity to meet face to face with clients and partners. With an estimated attendance of 12,000, it ran from Wednesday through Friday, and was packed with knowledgeable speakers and a wealth of networking opportunities. Special Industry Group sessions focused on Retail and the Next Generation, Finance, and Alliance. There were sessions on omni-shopping, accounting, specialty leasing, and more. An especially interesting session for us dealt with tools that cities and real estate developers could use to fully utilize sites for potential developments. The panel included both city officials and real estate professionals interested in making the most of underused urban spaces.

These two groups seem to be collaborating more with property owners, working toward the shared goal of attracting more retail to urban areas. We saw a significant number of municipal groups and city representatives at this year’s conference. This sort of partnership is ideal for gathering and effectively using the kind of data that we collect. Traffic and pedestrian counts are powerful indicators of site potential and optimal use. With the involvement of municipal groups the effort can be well coordinated and more useful overall.

Much of our time at the conference was spent in meetings with retailers, property owners, and municipalities. We had some great conversations with leading CRE professionals too; everyone seemed excited by the networking opportunities at the event. Some of the best discussions were serendipitous meetings at our booth in the conference hall.

We set up 3 sensors (naturally) at our booth, and gathered live data throughout the show. Motionloft had 5,253 people pass by our booth in total on both days with 4,136 on Thursday and 1,117on Friday. It was great to be able to use these operating sensors to describe our service to visitors. Real estate brokerage JLL also used our sensors at their booth, to monitor the traffic passing and entering their conference booth.

Based on our conference experience, we expect to see city planners and property owners working closely to make the best possible use of urban spaces. They’re utilizing data and digital tools to guide decision-making, and we think the process will continue to improve as input from everyone involved is taken into account.

The Western Conference was a success for us, and we look forward to returning. There is nothing like gathering and networking with your industry to get your ideas stirring and enthusiasm renewed. There was a lot of interest in our products, and we’re excited about moving forward with new projects.


The Real Estate Industry’s Love/Hate Relationship with Technology

ou73Q5Y7ThYou may be reading this on a tablet or phone, and you may have integrated technology into your work with great success. Still, the real estate industry overall, and commercial real estate in particular, is notorious for being reluctant to adopt new technology.

Part of the issue may be the sheer size of our industry. Commercial real estate in the U.S. represents around $15 trillion in assets, and involves a wide range of professions, from brokers to banks to builders. This sort of sprawling industry can certainly benefit from technological innovation, and many are finding tools to improve performance and efficiency. It just takes time for the idea to get around in many cases. Once a product is seen to be useful to others in the field, people tend to hop on board, but most are not interested in being the first to try a new technology. People are busy. Finding good tools takes time. Learning new technology can be frustrating.

One of the ten major points of 2015’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate report from Urban Land Institute is our industry’s “love/hate relationship” with technology. The discussion suggests that this will intensify, but at the same time mentions that there is less fear of disruption. The industry is beginning to look ahead to new technologies being developed to determine what opportunities they will present rather than focusing on potential problems.

Meanwhile technology is changing the way that space is used and how we think about location.  Commercial real estate professionals are beginning to take advantage of the wealth of data that tech tools can provide – detailed information on markets and individual properties, easy and concise property comparisons, and services that package data for ease of sharing and analysis.

There’s no avoiding technology in any business, and we can view it as an obstacle or an opportunity. Time spent exploring tools that have potential for improving efficiency is not wasted, and will pay off in the future. Still, it’s important to be selective and rely on expert guidance to save time.  Read up on what industry leaders are using and make it a practice to keep your eye on developing applications. Events like CRE/Tech Intersect are devoted entirely to showcasing and discussing new technology for the industry. Even if you can’t attend, the information is there for you online.

While commercial real estate’s relationship with technology is not quite where we’d like it to be, it appears that the industry is becoming more comfortable with seeking out new tools that meet our needs, and in response there’s a lot of work going on here at Motionloft to create technology that’s customized for CRE professionals.  

Motionloft to be featured at Telit DevCon

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On September 8, 2015, Motionloft is demonstrating an application of real-world analytics using Motionloft installed sensors representing an advanced use case in the Internet of Things (IoT) industry.  A live display will show the movement of people between the 20 sessions, the keynote and partner pavilion. The display will be in the foyer and the dashboard will demonstrate by location the activity of all the areas installed.


For TDC 2015, the dashboard will be labeled by location and include a “bubble map” for easy comparison between all the locations. The sensors include a processor, lens and sensor board and a 3G wireless connection powered by the Telit HE910-D modem over the AT&T industrial network. There is no wiring required, only power is required to get the devices in play.


Motionloft sensors provide real-time and historical pedestrian traffic data for each installed location. By having access to this data and the associated metrics, they provide clients with the ability to identify trends, and make decisions based on real data. Their devices are versatile; exterior-facing sensors can analyze pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles outside a location, while interior-facing sensors can analyze customer foot traffic within the retail space.


Motionloft is a technology company based in San Francisco, California. Motionloft, a Mark Cuban company, is installed in every major city in the U.S., with expansion to Mexico and Canada in 2015. Register now for TDC 2015. Engage with an auditorium of innovators; and add an array of new perspectives to your view of IoT. Use it to help you visualize emerging IoT enterprise opportunities. TDC 2015 is the launch platform for new Telit products and services rich with new advancements. See how Telit can help you onramp your devices to the IoT and manage your application of data with less risk. Only 12 days left to register! Register today to secure your place. Registration fee: $200. View up-to-date program and list of sponsors and partners at www.telit.com/devcon2015.


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New Motionloft Outdoor Sensor to Change the CRE Landscape

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The commercial real estate industry has been changing at an accelerated rate over the past few years as technology begins to make an impact on efficiency and access to useful information. In particular, exciting progress has been made in sensor technology that provides essential information that was much more labor-intensive to obtain in the past.

Knowing about pedestrian traffic at a given business location is a critical tool in planning and in evaluating a location. In the past we relied on human counters, and the resulting data was less than complete. For one thing, you can’t have someone counting traffic around the clock, and even if you could, there can be a high margin of error. Once a count is collected, the raw numbers still have to be turned into useful, actionable information. More recently the industry has utilized technology solutions that have been expensive to install and, maintain, with extensive infrastructure requirements that limited where this technology could be deployed.

With the development of technologies like Motionloft, these downsides are eliminated. Using computer vision software built into small, weatherized sensors, we can constantly monitor people, cars, and bicycles passing by virtually any given location, whether indoors or outdoors. There are little to no infrastructure or technology requirements, with the data streamed in real-time and available to customers anywhere, on any device.

Motionloft’s cloud-based business intelligence tools assist customers in identifying traffic patterns based on time of day, direction, and more.  At a glance, customers can tell not only how many people walk by the business, but what direction they are coming from and which times of day are the busiest.

This type of information is tremendously valuable for planning and scheduling, but also can be useful to commercial real estate clients looking to compare traffic and several locations or provide potential tenants with clear and credible data on the property.  It can help identify market trends in the area and aid in analyzing and projecting growth, or it can help find trends and give insights into events such as Black Friday.

Motionloft is a turnkey solution, providing all installation and maintenance support.  Our sensors take about 20 minutes to set up and less than 5 inches square. Data immediately begins to stream and is collected and analyzed by the platform. We can provide easily digested reports that allow commercial real estate professionals to better understand the real world conditions at a property, and effectively communicate that information to clients and colleagues.

Better information, gathered around the clock and available anywhere. The information you want without the time and work that was once required to get it. These are things that sensor technology does so well. It means that no matter how many locations or properties you need to track, Motionloft has you covered.

Understanding the Re-urbanization Movement’s Impact on CRE


An important trend for commercial real estate professionals is being called re-urbanization. As the name implies, this is a return to city centers and less growth in suburban areas. It’s been gaining momentum for the past several years, and is driven by a variety of economic and social factors. It has some noteworthy implications for commercial real estate and how we do business.

A 2014 study released by Rutgers discusses the extent of this trend as well as the factors that have contributed to it. For about 30 years following World War 2, the U.S. population shifted, with more people preferring to live –and often also work- outside of the urban core. Longer commutes became the norm; single-family homes the ideal. City centers began to lose population, while suburban development proceeded apace.

Enter the millennial generation. Priorities for this demographic make living and working in the city center a perfect fit. This age group shows a preference for the convenience of renting as opposed to home ownership. They are interested in access to amenities that can be found in mixed-use urban areas –recreation, museums, dining, and entertainment.  They’re interested in sustainability, so a short or non-existent commute makes sense to them, ethically and economically. The economic downturn and, in many cases, burdensome student loans contribute to this attitude. All of these factors have prompted millennials to lead the “post-suburban demographic.” Another major group making switch to city living is retiring Baby Boomers. They are also looking to enjoy the amenities of the city without spending a lot on fuel and spending time driving into town. Proximity to top medical facilities, culture, and retail outlets are also a consideration.

Acknowledging the significance of this shift in population and the return to city centers, what are the implications for the commercial real estate industry?  There are many opportunities here, particularly with regard to residential redevelopment and increased retail activity.

As more people look to make their home in city centers, commercial real estate can find ways to adapt existing properties. This can involve residential buildings as well as underutilized properties built for other purposes. This often works hand in hand with the city government’s goals to revitalize neglected areas, so they are eager to work with developers. Creating livable urban neighborhoods is a win for everyone.

An important part of the desirable, mixed-use neighborhood is retail. More residents draw business –from dining and shopping to services. Re-urbanization is creating a lot of activity in retail spaces, as well as improvements in infrastructure that draw still more people.  With enthusiastic support from local government, we have to keep our heads to avoid over-development and market saturation.

The only way to make sound business decisions is from a point of knowledge. Gathering and analyzing information rather than relying on hunches or guesswork just make sense. Understanding traffic patterns at a property, both vehicle and pedestrian, provides key insights that drive sound decisions in this urban environment. Being able to share this information with clients and partners clarifies your position and keeps everyone in the loop. Using a platform like Motionloft hands you this powerful tool in an immediately usable form and keeps you informed around the clock.

So by all means, check into the opportunities for commercial real estate in urban centers. But rely on your own customized Motionloft data when it comes to the critical decisions you’ll face.




Motionloft Data to Assist in Transformation of Market Street

San Francisco’s Market Street Prototyping Festival kicked off April 9th through the 11th, and Motionloft was excited to be a part of the weekend festivities. The Market Street Prototyping Festival showcased some of the most groundbreaking public space ideas coming out of San Francisco, while also promoting engagement and interaction among pedestrians on Market Street.…

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