SQUID Bike Data Collection “How-to”

Geoff P
Geoff P
Jul 17, 2017 · 3 min read

A handy guide on how to become a street data warrior!

Life is full of bumpy roads, eh? Especially life bicycling through New York City. As a soon to be graduating Masters student at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), I’ve been working on a capstone project that focuses on classifying bike lane quality in order for city governments around the world to more cheaply, more efficiently, and more accurately maintain bicycle infrastructure.

It’s the bicycle version of the Street-QUality-Identification-Device (SQUID), and we’re working with ARGO to put this all together.

I’ll skip over the part where I convince you that bicycling infrastructure is important, that’s for a longer write up. Let’s just assume it is for a healthy, functional, growing city.

This post goes into detail about how you or anyone else help improve bicycling infrastructure in your city.

Recipe for Digital Bike Lane Survey:

1. A Bike (w/helmet)

I’ve been using my surly cross-check B-)

Ideally, it’d be free of any bike racks — we need a nice, unobstructed view in the front to detect those potholes and measure bike lane quality.

2. A Cell Phone

I’ve been using my old iphone 5s B-)

Any smart phone will do — we’ll be using the accelerometer and camera inside the phone. Sorry Nokia 3310 fans!

3. A mount

We’ve found that the Mpow bike cell phone mount is best — although if you’re in NYC and using CitiBike, we’ve also come up with a mount-less solution, as seen here:

If you can tie a friendship bracelet, you can collect data for us on a CitiBike :)

4. The OpenStreetCam app (OSC)

OSC in action

Once you download the OSC app on your phone and create a an account, you should be all ready to collect street imagery data!

OSC Tips and Tricks:

Ideally, the phone should be oriented to capture as much of the street as possible, without capturing too much of the front wheel, or skyline ahead.

Make sure you’ve got your phone level (green, pictured left) and NOT crooked (red, pictured right) — also watch out for pedestrians in the bike lane!!

Once you’ve collected data for a route, you can upload the data when you reach a wifi connection, so you’re not overwhelming your cell phone data plan.

Here is a handy link to LINK NYC locations which offer free Gigabit Wifi!

5. Submit data to the SQUID Google Form

Once you finish your bike lane survey, we need to get a your OSC username (to give you thanks!) and OSC track-id to ingest the data into our data pipes.

You can check your profile and track-ids on openstreetcam.org

Submit your data via SQUID Google form for California

Submit your data via SQUID Google form for New York

Feel free to respond here with any questions and concerns, and happy SQUID riding!


The upload button allows you to upload the data to the openstreetcam “cloud” — easy, right?


Pioneering the future of government operations. Contact us: argo@argolabs.org

Geoff P

Written by

Geoff P

urban data scientist - DS @ Ford Smart Mobility formerly: bloomberg fellow @ detroit land bank authority /// NYU's CUSP



Pioneering the future of government operations. Contact us: argo@argolabs.org

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