Taking risks and putting yourself out there is all part of the entrepreneurial spirit, and Lindsey Klein wouldn’t have it any other way. In 2016, with ten years of traffic engineering experience under her belt, she saw an opportunity to jump into the data collection space on her own and take her engineering career in a different direction. Fast forward a few weeks, and she was signing on the dotted line for her first five Miovision Scout cameras. Imperial Traffic & Data Collection (ITDC) had officially launched.
Lindsey’s bold move in 2016 has paid off. What started as a whirlwind hasn’t slowed down a bit. In fact, her data collection shop based out of Cherry Hill, NJ, is gaining momentum. With 35 Miovision Scout units now in the arsenal, Imperial Traffic & Data Collection is expanding throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania to provide a range of data collection services for private, local, state, and federal transportation projects.
Lindsey recently sat down with us to share her story. Read on to learn how she manages to keep it all together while raising two young children and expanding her data collection business.
Miovision: First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your company, Imperial Traffic & Data Collection?
Klein: I’d love to! Imperial Traffic & Data Collection is based out of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Over the past three years, we’ve continued to grow and expand our resources and service area. Today, we have five employees ready to assist with field deployments and a variety of data collection services as needed to meet the required project goals.
Miovision: Give us a glimpse into your daily life, what does a typical day look like?
Klein: As President of ITDC and a mom of two young kids, my day starts off with a big pot of coffee! School starts promptly at 9:00 am, so until then I’m in total mom-mode, getting the kids dressed, fed, and organized for the day. Once they’re off to school, I can start to shift into work mode. Some mornings I head to the gym to clear my head and mentally prepare my to-do list for the day, other days I drive straight into the office. My first order of business is to review and deliver any counts that are ready to go out. I spend a few hours each afternoon writing proposals, scheduling equipment and staff, and preparing work for the field. My kids get home from school at 4:30 pm, so it’s back to being a mom until they go to bed around 8:00 pm. Then, I put my business hat back on for two to three more late night hours to wrap up any outstanding emails, upload new count data, deliver counts, or send out proposals for work. It’s a lot to juggle, but it’s also very rewarding. Running my own business gives me a great deal of flexibility, which is important to me at this stage in my life. Putting in the late-night hours is a welcome trade-off for relaxed mornings with my family and me-time at the gym!
Miovision: A woman of many talents! Speaking of which, you’re also a seasoned traffic engineer. What made you want to start your own data collection company?
Klein: Yes, that’s true. I was in the traffic operations and engineering field for 10 years. I spent my time modeling traffic, drafting signal layout and electrical plans, completing signal timing deployments, and so on. One specific project during that time required a lot of recurring data collection, which got me thinking. I realized that there was an opportunity to jump into the data collection space on my own and leave my engineering career behind.
It felt like a bit of a crazy idea, so I took my husband out to breakfast to discuss it, and a few hours later, I made the call to Miovision to get a price on Scout units. After a few weeks and some new business paperwork and financial moves, I was the proud new owner of 5 Miovision Scout units and started brainstorming company names.
Miovision: That’s a great entrepreneurship story! Now that you’ve been at it for a few years, what would you say you love most about your job?
Klein: I’ve formed many relationships with colleagues over the course of my career, and I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside them to this day. I enjoy catching up with clients outside of the office. Whether it’s a round of golf, chatting over lunch, or attending meetings or industry events in person, I’m always looking for ways to help them with current or future projects. I often drop by engineering offices, just to say hello and meet some of the staff I work with on a regular basis. It’s always great meeting folks in person that I may have only chatted with over the phone or through email. The opportunity to shake their hand is always a rewarding part of my job.
Miovision: Tell us about the types of challenges you were hoping to solve using Miovision solutions.
Klein: Miovision was actually the foundation Imperial Traffic & Data Collection was built on. It’s safe to say that without Miovision technology, its ease of use in the field, and strong data sharing platform, there would not have been an opportunity for me to compete in the market and juggle the staff required to perform traffic counts. ITDC has expanded rapidly over the past two years, trying to offer our clients easy scheduling and quick turnaround of their traffic data. There are also opportunities to use the equipment for more than just counts. We often use field monitoring, queue backups, and more, to capture real-field conditions.
Miovision: Which Miovision products or solutions are you currently using?
Klein: We currently have 35 Miovision Scout units with the connected adapters. We use the Scout units primarily for TMCs and ATRs. We perform Gap studies, pedestrian counts, bike and pathway counts, and capture travel time data. Additionally, we will use the cameras to capture video to address other use cases such as: queue counts, parking lot counts, manual origin-destination counts, and even use the captured video to monitor traffic and pedestrian patterns. We also use Miovision DataLink to check on our units in the field, adjust count times, and verify battery and storage are sufficient on larger jobs.
Miovision: How would you say Miovision has helped your business?
Klein: Standardizing with Miovision has made it easy for us to sell our services, because it allows us to offer our clients exactly what they want and expect when it comes to traffic data collection. The accuracy of Miovision’s Artificial Intelligence has been proven by so many firms all over the world, it’s an easy sell. The fact that Miovision also performs internal checks on 12% of counts, helps keep the product viable and helps me rest easy.
Miovision: What has your experience been like working with Miovision?
Klein: Working with the Miovision team has been very easy. In the infancy stages of ITDC, the help desk offered tremendous support. As we’ve grown, our questions become more unique, but the staff is knowledgeable and friendly. We can quickly and easily get in touch with the right people to help us get past a hurdle and move on. The entire Miovision team has been a great addition to our Imperial toolbox.
Miovision: You mentioned travel time earlier. Let’s revisit that for a moment. What’s so important about travel time data?
Klein: Sure. Put simply, travel time data is used to determine how long it takes a vehicle to get from one location to another. By using several connected Scout units, we’re able to determine if one section of a corridor is worse than another, based on the amount of time it takes to get to each point. The travel time and distance between each segment can average the vehicle speed. In these types of studies, accuracy is extremely important, because if a vehicle is captured earlier or later than it actually arrived, the time between units will be off, and will give a false representation of improvements or delays to the system.
Miovision: What are some of the reasons your clients have for collecting travel time data?
Klein: Travel time data is useful for performing a signal retiming, to capture improvements along a section of roadway, and to verify whether new timings made an improvement in the field (also known as Measures of Effectiveness, or MOEs). The FHWA is recommending signals be retimed every three years, and with that, townships and counties that are paying the bills are going to want some tangible evidence that any new cycles, splits, and offsets did in fact change the flow of traffic in a positive way. My clients have a variety of reasons for requesting travel time counts. For instance, a client may want to evaluate travel time based on weather conditions or while school is in or out of session, to get the variabilities on a corridor.
Here’s another example: Travel timing during the summer along shore routes would be drastically different in July versus November, and capturing this data and comparing it may encourage the jurisdiction to add another lane to the corridor, or open up the cycle length to get platoons of cars to their destinations.
Miovision: What do your customers say is the most important thing about the data you collect?
Klein: Clients just want the data to be accurate. They want it done right the first time so they’re not going out to do it again. You can imagine that if data needs to be collected a second time, the engineer will need to ask their agency for additional funds, and sometimes the timing puts them out of season to recollect the counts. So yes, accuracy is definitely number one, and how quickly we can schedule the work is a close number two.
Miovision: What’s something people may be surprised to hear about data collection?
Klein: That data collection is only as good as the setup. Even if you’re using the best products, if the quality control isn’t there in the field, and the setup of equipment is only half decent, then the data will likely be half decent.
Miovision: Agreed! Before we let you go, tell us about the craziest thing you’ve ever caught on a Miovision Scout camera.
Klein: We actually once caught what looked like a carjacking on one of our Scout units, in the early morning hours! There was a group of adults that rushed out of a car and ran straight to another car at the opposite side of the road. We never did find out what happened, but the behavior was certainly odd. We’ve also had units installed on some pretty rough street corners, so watching pedestrian activity at these locations can get pretty interesting. People are often very curious about what the Scouts are being used for, and we’ve even caught people spending 30 minutes looking at, shaking, or trying to uninstall the Scout units, or just pacing back and forth around them.
Hear directly from Lindsey Klein, Founder and President of Imperial Traffic & Data Collection, at our upcoming webinar. Join us to learn how she used portable Miovision Scout units to collect travel time and vehicle volumes to prove the ROI of signal retiming projects. Reserve your spot today!