Data Champions?  – A Conversation With Sam Milsom from Open Data Manchester  – Part 2

We’re back for our 2nd instalment of all things data with Sam Milsom. working with Chorlton’s Data Champions, traffic data collection days and the importance of community input when designing these activities. 

If you didn’t catch part one of our conversation with Sam, you can read that here

Before we dip into part two, here’s a refresher of the Open Data Manchester team and what they’re here to support: 

Sam Milsom is one of the local people involved with Our Streets Chorlton. He also works at community interest company (CIC) Open Data Manchester. 

A data expert, one of his passions is communicating data in a simple, understandable way and enabling people who ‘don’t do data’ to enjoy it, access it, use it and be empowered by it.

As part of his work with the Chorlton Climate Action Partnership he, along with ODM colleagues Julian Tait and Sophie Walker, is supporting the three mini-projects with data collection and analysis. We’re also working with the community to develop a cohort of Data Champions who will be involved in collecting and understanding data about Chorlton.

They are here to help Our Streets Chorlton tell the story of current traffic levels and air quality in the neighbourhood, as well as measure any changes over the course of the project.

We’ve spoken to Sam about their work with the project to date and he’s written a series of bitesize blogs to share more about who they are, what they do and their work with Chorlton. Here’s part two –  Data Champions:

Data Champions – A Conversation with Sam Milsom – Part 2

Alongside collecting and making data available for the Our Streets Chorlton project, Open Data Manchester wants to help people move from being passive consumers of data, to get interested, engaged and more informed local people.

So we’re helping to form a local group of ‘Data Champions’, as part of the wider Our Streets Chorlton ‘Champions’ programme. These Data Champions are actively supporting us to collect baseline information on things like motorised vehicle traffi cin the area.

With our Data Champions, we’ve distributed a number of Telraam sensors across the community. These are small, low-resolution cameras connected to a Raspberry Pi micro-computer that give us counts on cars, vans, bicycles and pedestrians, and are also able to give a rough indication of vehicle speed.


This data is openly available so you can take a look at the locations of the units and the volumes registered so far over on the map.

For the upcoming ‘School Streets’ part of the project, which will see a local school road closed to motorised traffic, we are going to be conducting road-side traffic counts before the road closure and twice after – a week and a month later. 

This will allow us to take a baseline measurement for road use and see if there has been any behaviour change as a result of the intervention, and then to see if this change continues.

It’s important for us to involve the community in the ‘act of data collection’. Counting and recording information helps to take this ‘thing called data’ from being something abstract that ‘others do over there’ to making it something more tangible, solid and accessible to everyone.

Roadside Traffic Counts

On Wednesday April 7 2021, we carried out our first roadside traffic survey, conducted by our initial cohort of data champions. The purpose of this was to pilot our methodology in advance of our first ‘official’ surveys in June.

Also, we wanted to provide our Data Champions with an opportunity to help design how our traffic counts operated. It’s important that our community, who are supporting the collection itself, have input into how the day runs.

Designing Data Collection Together

From the start, we knew we wanted to collect the following types of traffic, so as to match the Department of Transport’s (DoT) official traffic survey statistics.

  • Cars & taxis
  • Buses
  • Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) ie transit vans or pickups
  • Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) ie lorries
  • Motorcycles
  • Cycles

OSC is a community-led project, so it’s important to us to have input from you. We chatted with the community of the Chorlton and Chorlton Park area in two design workshops, which took place in January 2021 via Zoom.

We asked participants to tell us what traffic data beyond the DoT categories they feel is important to collect. We also asked you to tell us what you may need in order to feel safe and comfortable carrying out a roadside traffic survey in the area, and what extra precautions you want us to take into account given we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and with lockdown restrictions. 

For some more information on the design sessions, here is a public Miro board which summarises the input from these sessions.  

examples from the Traffic Data Design Workshop

As a result of the design workshops, we slightly modified and expanded the Department of Transport categories, and changed the language of some category types to make it easier to record.

  • Cars
  • Taxis
  • Buses
  • Vans (LGVs)
  • Lorries (HGV)
  • Motorcycles
  • Cycles
  • Wheelchairs (including mobility scooters)
  • E-Scooter

The addition of E-Scooters, Mobility Scooters and Wheelchairs were a result of many of you having regularly seen the roads in Chorlton/Chorlton Park being used by these modes of transport. 

Local people engagement is extremely important to us and it will continue to shape the direction of Our Streets Chorlton. 

On the final blog of our Conversations with Sam, we’ll chat about the feedback on the traffic data collection day itself and a look to the next ones. Speaking of…

Next Data Champions Training Sessions

A reminder that you can get involved in the next Traffic Data Collection days by booking onto one of the below training sessions:

If you’re already trained up, have a free hour  and want to do another count with us, just drop us a line!