DataFromSky mistaken for aliens!

Unidentified object in the skies of Trento, Italy – Aliens? Most of the citizens and local journals could think that, read some of the local newspapers. Do not worry, there is no danger of alliens attack so far, DataFromSky has a simple and reasonable explanation!

Using a special balloon for traffic data collecting, new DataFromSky traffic analysis near the city of Trento in northern Italy was undertaken within last weeks. Specially designed ballon was used for a 3hour long study of traffic flow in the multilevel roundabout as shown in the attached image. This helium-filled balloon has many advantages for the persistent traffic monitoring, in comparison to commonly used drones and UAV, as the operating time of the balloon can reach up to 5 hours! To get more information about this solution and its specification, read this article or contact us directly on

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Complete traffic analysis in Dalmine, Italy

DataFromSky in cooperation with Trafficlab, conducted an important and complex traffic analysis in Italy, over the motorway junction of Dalmine (Bergamo), near the A4 motorway (Torino – Trieste), and the highway SS470. With the aid of a special balloon (Immagini al Volo) and DataFromSky, it was possible to obtain a complete picture of the performance of the vehicles during the morning peak hours (7.00 – 9.00).

In particular, the studied elements are 4 junctions: 3 roundabout and 1 multi-level junction, directly connected to the motorway.

Through the traffic flows obtained, it was possible to create an OD-matrix for every junction and for every type of vehicle (bicycles, motorcycles, cars, medium vehicles, high vehicles, buses), to extrapolate information about the behaviour of every vehicle, such as acceleration, speed, time gap, time to follow; all these data are available for every route and every type of vehicle. The acceleration and the maximum and minimum speed values represent a valid help for the creation of a traffic simulation on the junction that were considered. The results are great with a minimum difference between the number of entering vehicles and the number of exiting vehicles (it has to be considered that the surveys were conducted in different times and days).

Another peculiarity of this tool is to give the possibility to elaborate vehicle’s trajectories with a GIS software. The trajectories are connected to a geo-database that contains all the information about the vehicle and its behaviour (shape files).

It is interesting to focus on the incorrect behaviour of road users with the help of the object presence alert, the new special feature of DataFromSky Viewer. For example, it was possible to see that a vehicle crossed the roundabout in the opposite direction!

Finally, thanks to an in-depth analysis of the Copert model about pollutant emissions, it was possible to define the quantities of pollutants released into the atmosphere by the traffic flow of the considered area: CO [kg], Non methane VOC – HC [kg], PM [kg], NOx [kg], CO2[kg] e Fuel Consumption [kg].

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Camera on a balloon for studying traffic in the city of Alba

Flow analysis, speed and critical points in the city of Alba
“DataFromSky”, in other words, data that arrives from the sky through the shootings of a camera placed on a balloon. It was not so difficult to see one of these during these days in the industrial area located in Corso Asti, where the local study “TrafficLab” is going to analyze the traffic from the sky. “This is an analysis that we need for planning the new commerce building placed in this area” says the municipal officer. The results are still processing. Andrea Marella, engineer at TrafficLab, says: “We realized some aerial video at a height about 50/60 meters. The results are really interesting, because it is possible to see the traffic from a different perspective.” And explains: “This is a new methodology developed about three years ago that allows to analyze the vehicle movements from the sky. This service doesn’t interference with the sensitive data, and helps to get information automatically with our software. This can give us the number of the vehicles on the road, the traffic flow, the directions, the speeds and the conflict points.”

Looking for solutions
The camera is attached to a balloon inflated with helium. Marella adds: “We cannot use drones, because it is too difficult to have authorizations. We work in this way from a long time, with motorway companies, shopping centers and traffic local authorities and the results are very satisfactory. In this way we can have a wider vision that allows to report potentially critical situations and to find out how to solve them.”

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Dynasim model improvement using our data

Did you know that DataFromSky can provide data for simulation calibration? Citilabs, a traffic modeling software house, recently tried using data captured by DataFromSky to calibrate a model in Cube Dynasim, one of their tools. For the case study, a roundabout in Genestrerio was selected.

The simulation was calibrated based on a comparatively short recording. The resulting observed parameters matched reality reasonably well: flows within 6%, travel time 20%, average speed 16%. This shows that DataFromSky can provide valuable data for simulation, allowing modeling of areas larger than capturable by DFS and contributing greatly to the model prediction quality.

Citilabs have created a presentation which you can browse, as well as a video.


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DataFromSky presented at SUMO User Conference 2016

For the fourth consecutive year the DLR (Institute of Transportation Systems) held at its headquarters in Berlin the conference of SUMO (Simulation of Urban MObility). It is an open-source simulation platform implemented in C++ which allows modelling intermodal traffic systems including road vehicles, public transport and pedestrians.

Our poster in Berlin with Andrea Marella (right) and Eng. Bonfanti (left)

The flexibility and the continuous development of computational models and new system features make this platform suitable for integration with other applications. Information sharing and the presentation of new usage scenarios involving this platform are some of the main reasons of its rapid development and growing success.

This year’s conference, that took place on 23-25 May 2016, was attended by numerous technicians of the transport field coming from European and American countries. DataFromSky was present, too, in order to expose a project being pursued in cooperation with the Italian partner Andrea Marella, entitled ‘Implementing traffic simulation model with aerial traffic surveys’. You can download the poster here:

pdf Poster_SUMO_DFS.pdf

The aim is to exploit the potential of DataFromSky, in terms of quantity and quality of gathered data, to improve and come up to a more realistic simulation scenario with SUMO. More specifically, the study has focused on the collection of dynamic data of passing vehicles on the survey stretch: this has allowed us to more accurately define the parameters that influence the driving behaviour of the users in that specific environment. The obtained characteristics are then used to define the simulation parameters for the car-following model, and then highlight the huge improvements in terms of virtual representation of the actual observed traffic behaviour.

Training course in Trieste

Andrea Marella talking at seminar in Trieste

Audience at seminar in Trieste

As we announced a few weeks ago, an interesting training course entitled “Methods and techniques for the monitoring and management of road traffic” presented by Eng. Andrea Marella (Trafficlab) was recently held in Trieste. The organization of the event was made possible thanks to the collaboration with the University of Trieste and the Order of Engineers of Trieste.

The meeting was attended by about 70 participants, road and traffic engineers most of all, who have joined with active interest and participation. During the 4 hours course have been described the innovative tools that are currently developing in recent years for the gathering of traffic data. Finally, the opportunity of the meeting has allowed to present a practical case of DataFromSky application, regarding the study of an intersection in Trieste from a video shot from the top of an high-rise. This analysis, already mentioned in previous news was the topic of master’s thesis “The Design of Road Intersection“ of a civil engineering student from University of Trieste.

The great success of the event confirms the interest in this field. Our hope is that other initiatives of this type may in future be promoted by engineering associations and universities, in order to provide an increased awareness of such instruments and of the great potential that they can offer.

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It’s time to learn!

Seminar invitation headings DataFromSky technology has added new possibilities to transport and road fields. It highlights a great need of people working in these fields – to be equipped with adequate tools for conducting surveys and collecting data. The purposes for which such data is collected places severe requirements on precision and reliability. Choosing the right methods and devices used for traffic monitoring and vehicle counting is a question of selecting the best ones for a given environment.

All of this will be part of discussion in the seminary with title “Methods and techniques for the monitoring and management of road traffic” presented by Eng. Andrea Marella (Trafficlab) and Eng. Erik Sferco (Trieste University), that will take place on Monday, 16th May at the Trieste University.

Program for the whole day is available in the following link, with an explanation on how to participate for those interested.

pdf Locandina-DataFromSky.pdf

A few weeks ago, our Italian partner Eng. Morini from society TAU participated in a meeting day with theme “Advanced applications in road planning: survey and analysis of the traffic and the video images produced by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and “Big data” dataset obtained from cellular networks”, where he spoke about “advanced systems for survey and analysis of traffic and mobility in urban and suburban areas by processing of video images recorded thanks to flight and aerial platforms”. More information about the event is available at the following link (Italian only):

pdf 1697.pdf

The rising interest shown by universities and official engineering associations demonstrates the growing confidence in DataFromSky and understanding what it is. We hope that these meetings could let traffic technicians know how powerful and innovative tool we are working on.

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Excel exports

We would like to announce a new great feature – reports that can be opened in the most widespread spreadsheet editor of all time (so far). Yes, Viewer can now export a complete Excel sheet listing all the possible things you want to know, starting with turning movements and ending with with an image of the annotations. If you do not use Excel, no reason to be sad – the reports are completely readable in LibreOffice, too, and probably in most other spreadsheet editors.

As an example, here is a video from EXPO Milano. Not exactly from the exhibition though, rather from a nearby roundabout during afternoon. This is another video shot from a building, this time at a very poor angle – one of the legs is completely hidden. You can see easily that the roundabout is severely congested in the first few minutes of video. Looks like an overhaul might be needed…

The video included here is a short example, the total recording includes over sixteen hundred vehicles. Anyway, you are invited to take a look at what an excel report from such a place looks like:

XLSX Excel report from the video

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Partnerships in Italy and Switzerland

A few days after announcing the previous business agreement, we are happy to announce also our new partnerships for the Italian and Swiss markets.

Partnerships in Italy

Trafficlab (part of the Progectolab group) is DataFromSky partner since half 2014 and is now the Official Distributor for Italy and Switzerland of the DataFromSky market. After a great promotion and sponsorship in Italy (Dronitaly 2014, Smart Mobility Forum 2014 and 2015) we are getting great satisfaction from our major trading partner. After a start slowed by regulatory difficulties for the overflight of drones in urban area, now the reliefs start increasing day by day.

But the news does not end here. Recently two exclusive contracts with ESSE8 society and TAU have been signed. The Italian market so increases with two important business partners who will play the roles of regional exclusive sale representative. The ESSE8 engineering company has an exclusive contract until 2017 for the Veneto and Campania regions and also cooperates on the development of software applications for road safety. The company TAU specialized in monitoring and traffic simulations, has also signed an exclusive agreement until 2017 for the Lombardia Region, and is holding a balloon specifically developed for aircraft traffic surveys.

For all the Italian and Swiss market informations you can contact the Trafficlab company at the following addresses:
DataFromSky Official Distributor for Italy and Switzerland, Andrea Marella,

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High-rise used for traffic monitoring in Trieste

We have been recently asked by a student of civil engineering from University of Trieste to analyze a video for his master’s thesis titled “The Design of Road Intersection“.

With this video, we can present another mode of use for DataFromSky, a first for us: Video shot from buildings. As you can imagine, the image is stable as a rock, and not too bad for just 45 meters at 13th floor. The covered area is rather small, but that does not matter much here. The area is quite confined anyway, with all the buildings around. One of the roads almost immediately disappears in a tunnel. To quote the author:

The analysed crossroad is an urban traffic-light intersection, located in the suburbs of the Municipality of Trieste. The intersection presents a substantial traffic flow especially in the morning and the evening hours. Most of the inhabitants which live in the suburbs of Trieste cross this road intersection to go to work, to school and to university.

Gate placement – click for Google maps. The building with camera is on the right.

Origin-destination matrix

Exit gate 8 Exit gate 9 Exit gate 12 Exit gate 14 Exit gate 16 Exit gate 17
Entry gate 7 0 0 0 504 673 0
Entry gate 10 0 0 7 0 1 103
Entry gate 11 1 2 1 2 8 121
Entry gate 13 555 21 0 45 285 0
Entry gate 15 676 35 40 136 1 164

You can also take a look at the thesis abstract written by Ing. Erik Sferco:
PDF English version
PDF Italian version

In this survey, we tracked 3 617 vehicles which travelled 338 898 meters in total. Length of the analyzed video was about one hour. We are looking for partners from academic sphere as well! If you want to utilize DataFromSky approach in your research, do not hesitate to contact us.

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Interview with Andrea Marella from Smart Mobility World 2015

At Smart Mobility World 2015, our Italian representative, Andrea Marella, was interviewed by IOT Expo. We did not manage to get rights for modification of the video, so we bring it here in the original Italian without subtitles and add an English transcript below. (The auto-transcript and auto-translate feature from Youtube is not really worth trying out in this case).



(ENAC is the Italian Civil Aviation Authority)

Journalist Andrea Marella, from DataFromSky. I would like like to better understand in which field do work and who you are.
Andrea Marella Thanks for the question. My job has been dealing with traffic and transport ambit for some years now. I discovered around one and a half year ago this service, that we are currently able to provide to our customers also here in Italy. Practically, we can record aerial videos, using drones or similar technologies, and by means of that we can analyze the video using our processing software. This allows us to extract much more information than we usually have, and not simply the static ones, but also dynamic data. So for example considering a given vehicle that has been recorded in the video, it is possible to tag it and see its movement, as well as know, for each video frame, the speed, acceleration, deceleration, time to enter, time to exit,… All these data are something that we, as traffic engineers, didn’t have until short time ago, but they’re available. Who could be interested in those data? Public administrations, traffic research centers, motorway companies, but also shopping malls. For example, we recently conducted some surveys around the Zara-Expo area in Milan, outside the Expo exhibition, where we had to evaluate and analyze the long-term flows. In conclusion, it allows collection of a large amount of data.
Journalist So what you are talking about is an applicable solution, that has to do with the drone sector, and that could be very useful to compute data analysis. About the application sectors, are they related only to traffic analysis, or may they be different?
Andrea Marella We developed this algorithm that allow to capture the information on a generic moving object. In this case we apply it on vehicles driving along a road, but it could be applied also, for example, to vehicles being parked, knowing the standing time of each vehicle, the enter and exit time, other different important vehicle parameters. As I told before, focusing on shopping centers, we also could estimate the queue, study possible gridlock conditions, the waiting exit time… And last but not least, the road safety, where many applications may use the data that we offer – because what in fact we do is provide information and elaborate them for the customer. This may be, as I said before, public administration, as well as an individual user.
Journalist About the drone sector: It’s a field that is currently fast expanding, but at the same time faces lots of complication to freely grow, because of the problem related to the ENAC regulations, the need for license, authorization, restrictions,… At the moment work is a bit complicated. What do you think about it as an ‘inside worker’?
Andrea Marella Let me start by saying that we actually provide the analysis service, and the survey phase is generally conducted by our partner companies, they have everything needed to legally and safely carry out work. What I can personally say, is that within the last 18 months we had two revisions of the regulations about flying objects; every time that I meet experts or other workers who have something to do with it, we tell each other: ”Next time will be the right one for changes!” I hope in the next time!
Journalist I know. But is there a place in the world where it would be easier to start developing and launching on the market, US for example, thanks to the advantageous circumstances? In other words, is that a problem of rules, or related to how the regulations are applied in a given place?
Andrea Marella I think that the regulation imposed by ENAC, that is one of the first ones adopted in Europe, still have space to correct and improve. Anyway they’re becoming aware of the problem, giving openness. For example the opportunity to fly with UAV less than 300g at 100m height on urban areas is a great possibility. On the other hand, we have UAV producers and workers, who have already invested resources and sums of money, and they’re ready to enter the market. There’s still lack of something due to, well you know in Italy, bureaucracy. For example, the need to send declaration to ENAC, ask authorizations… All these require time, days or months… more likely months! Next January probably a new application on the ENAC website will be born, that will be very helpful to simplify the procedures. I trust in this opportunity!
Journalist From your point of view, what you see in the next two years? Because, as you know, the UAV sector has lots of practical uses… I’d like to know your thoughts – which applications are going to have an immediate development? And what is going to happen within the next two years?
Andrea Marella Generally speaking about drones, I think that monitoring applications related to agriculture will be the biggest, and the first to grow, due to ease of work in open spaces, without constraints, safely. Next, there are research centers dealing with the general environment monitoring; I mean infrastructure monitoring, land monitoring, or related to wind farms, or, as we do, in the field of traffic monitoring.
Journalist So an uncertain future, not well defined…
Andrea Marella No, I wouldn’t say so. We’re optimistic, we don’t want to be negative. We believe that 2016 will be a crucial year for the real growth, and that we are going to see the number of flying drones increasing. Once we are able to fly them easily, we’ll have to decide how to optimize for usefulness: then we will be ready to take advantage of it!
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