Four questions to ask your traffic data supplier

20 November, 2019

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As with any third party data supplier or agency, not all data is created equal.

Traffic data is an essential component to planning financially-savvy business decisions or refurbishments. When it’s high-value, traffic data should be an annual average of daily counts collected from thousands of offices of transportation across a specific country. Better still, this data should be geocoded and aggregated to create a useful traffic count dataset.

Unfortunately, not all data suppliers are sufficiently diligent with data cleanliness. For example, many traffic data organizations do not update their traffic count data on a regular basis. They may supply inaccurate data sets with out-of-date information. Or they use cell phone and onboard car computer data that can contain inaccuracies due to the way it’s collected and modeled.

If you are looking for a single traffic count from one location, you can usually obtain that for free from your local government agency’s website. If you want to see specific trends and gather actionable insights over a more complex period of time, however, its advised to seek the assistance from a trusted traffic data supplier like Kalibrate.

But what if you’re not sure about the quality of your data provider? Here are four questions to ask:

1. Where do you source your data from?

First, find out exactly where your data provider gleans their information.

A trusted data provider will use a combination of automated processes which streamline the extraction, transformation, and loading of traffic data. This may be supplemented by a methodology that verifies, enriches, and standardizes that data. Kalibrate has a team of people dedicated to manually reviewing data and dealing with exceptions to ensure the highest level of accuracy.

A high quality data provider like Kalibrate will pull data from multiple sources such as national, and local governments, highway, and transportation departments. Kalibrate, for example, collects raw data from over 6000 sources and turns it into valuable business insights.

2. How often is it updated?

Timeliness of data is absolutely crucial for it to be useful to you. For example, if you are planning to build a new business at a specific intersection, but the most recent traffic count is from 2010, what do you do? This information is entirely impractical for strategic planning in 2020.

So, ask your data provider if they have the ability to provide up-to-date accurate information, whether that is through collection of the latest data sets or through a robust and accurate modeling methodology to fill in the gaps. A good data provider will make sure the traffic data is continuously updated on an ongoing basis for the most accurate insights.

3. What format is the data provided in?

If you are trying to collect traffic counts for an area larger than one zip code, there is a good chance you will run into the issue of disparate formats and inconsistent datasets. The type of traffic data partner you should invest in would offer format standardization, geocoding, and sorting.

Bear in mind, traffic volume data should be available in GIS file formats including:

  • SHP Popular GIS file format
  • DBF Standard database file
  • CSV Comma separated values file compatible with MS Excel
  • TAB MapInfo file (common GIS file)

Businesses that use Kalibrate’s TrafficMetrix® Published Traffic Counts, for example, can prevent thousands of hours’ work transforming the data into a common format.

4. Do you provide a free data sample?

Finally, an excellent traffic data provider should be prepared to prove their worth before any money has passed hands. Ask your data supplier for a data sample; any provider that is unwilling to demonstrate the quality of their data in advance probably shouldn’t be trusted. 

Kalibrate’s TrafficMetrix® is the most comprehensive database of traffic counts, globally. It gives you a deep understanding of local markets, so you can enhance your planning decisions. Better still, you can easily request a free sample of Kalibrate’s current, complete, and accurate traffic data counts in advance. 

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