Ecopia and Alta Planning + Design Partner to Improve Pedestrian Walkability & Safety Using AI

September 30, 2021
Post by
Ecopia AI


It is estimated that over 89% of the US will live in urban areas by the year 2050, a trend that is on par with many developing countries. This brings massive economic opportunity and cultural impact, but this rapid urbanization also comes with challenges. The rise of emerging technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence can help communities find solutions for issues such as resource utilization, sustainability, and safety in public utilities, transportation, infrastructure, and the environment. These new technologies can help create foundational data that can be leveraged to enhance public policy and action-oriented decisions. Pedestrian walkability and safety studies that are leveraging the power of AI for Right-of-Way data are an example of an innovative approach that is being used by a rising number of municipalities, cities, regional transportation organizations, and federal agencies.

Need for Digital Twins & Ecopia’s Nationwide Right-of-Way Map Data

Today, it is possible to create a digital representation of our physical world at scale and use these ‘digital twins’ of cities and large areas to make data-backed decisions with far-reaching implications. Over the last 8 years, Ecopia has used its proven proprietary AI-based systems to extract land cover features and building footprints from high-resolution geospatial imagery. Ecopia creates HD Maps that are accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. These HD maps are embedded into hundreds of customer applications spanning 100+ countries around the world. This includes organizations such as the World Bank, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation amongst others. Given the increasing demand for such accurate, reliable, and up-to-date foundational information, Ecopia has further trained and developed the capabilities of our AI-based systems to generate advanced Right-of-Way transportation maps. 

Ecopia’s AI-based systems can extract advanced Right-of-Way (RoW) features from high-resolution stereo aerial imagery that leads to insights and better decision making across applications such as: 

  1. Improving pedestrian connections and safety
  2. Traffic safety planning
  3. Public works management
  4. Compliance with accessibility requirements
  5. Vision Zero Program support

Ecopia's RoW Extraction Technology can be used to develop high-definition maps of how the existing RoW is allocated from curb to curb. The above sample shows the level of detail extracted Contra Costa County, California.

For example, the South-Eastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) conducted a pedestrian mobility analysis across 13 counties which highlights the value Ecopia’s maps can bring to government decision-making. You can read more about this project spanning over 5000 square miles here.

Ecopia continues to focus on expanding its engagement with relevant stakeholders across the transportation and infrastructure development ecosystem. Our mission is to ensure that RoW data covering the entirety of the US is readily available in an off-the-shelf manner along with on-demand feature extraction to suit custom requirements.  A key aspect of this strategy is to work with city planners, architects, and consultancy organizations that are at the forefront of transportation innovation. This brings us to our partnership with Alta Planning+Design.

Partnering with Alta Planning + Design: Creating Future-ready Communities

Alta Planning + Design is a leading consulting organization focused on providing transportation infrastructure planning and design services that lead to active and healthy communities. Alta works with Ecopia data to inform their understanding of important components of the multimodal infrastructure such as sidewalks and crosswalks. Using this data, Alta is able to provide their clients with high-quality imagery and data at scales and on timelines that are extremely hard to achieve through just aerial review and fieldwork. A diverse set of projects are already benefiting from this, including Safety Routes to School Projects, Countywide Active Transportation Plans, Systemic Safety Analysis, Mobility Plans, and Heat Reduction Studies. Often communities ask Alta what is missing in their understanding of conditions on the ground, and more often than not existing inventories of sidewalks, crosswalks, and other types of multimodal infrastructure are outdated, in hard to use formats, or don’t exist. Ecopia provides a compelling way to build digital twins of existing multimodal infrastructure, enabling Alta to identify gaps and improvements that can help communities meet their full potential.

Alta envisions asset information collected by Ecopia's Global Feature Extractions feeding directly into network analysis that can help assess people's access to opportunities not only based on the availability of a facility to use but its quality.

Alta's Civic Analytics practice envisions a future of custom spatial & web tools that build on top of this foundational data, such as Ecopia’s extract advanced Right-of-Way (RoW) features. They are already using Ecopia standardized data products to build tools over the extractions so they can efficiently understand the availability and quality of infrastructure and its relationship to street connectivity and access.

Similarly, Alta is focused on how to mitigate the urban heat island effect. Ecopia's cost-effective building and tree cover extractions are important components to understand the dynamics of shade and other factors impacting radiant heat. This can be used to identify countermeasures and tools to cool down streets and improve traveler comfort.

About Alta Planning + Design

Alta Planning + Design is an active transportation company dedicated to creating active, healthy communities through the planning, landscape architecture, engineering, and education/encouragement programs. Alta was founded in 1996 when cities and communities were calling for safer streets for people walking and bicycling as the non-motorized transportation movement developed into a profession in the United States. We pioneered the field of active transportation, evolving our planning and design work into a visionary global practice that empowers people to live active, healthy lives and gets them to where they need to go.

About Ecopia AI

Ecopia leverages AI to convert high-resolution images of our earth into high-definition (HD) Vector Maps. These maps form a digital representation of reality and are embedded into critical decision-making applications, offering unique insight at scale. Ecopia’s HD Vector Maps are leveraged for hundreds of commercial and government applications across over 100 countries around the world. For more information, visit or click the link below for a demo.

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If you're ready to leverage groundbreaking advancements in artificial intelligence, let's chat. For more examples of Ecopia's extraction capabilities, please view our samples.

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If you're ready to leverage groundbreaking advancements in artificial intelligence, let's chat. For more examples of Ecopia's extraction capabilities, please view our samples.