Pedestrian counters coming to Loop in June


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Pedestrian traffic is constantly monitored by Springboard pedestrian counters in New York City’s Times Square. The traffic-monitoring devices are set to be installed in Chicago’s Loop in June, according to Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director.

By Lauren Johnson

Chicago’s State Street will be joining Times Square and other metropolitan hubs with the launch of Springboard brand pedestrian counters, set to be installed in June. 

The Chicago Loop Alliance announced on March 20 during its annual meeting that it will be placing pedestrian monitors along State Street to collect data on how many pedestrians walk down the  street a day, as the most recent information collected on pedestrian traffic on State Street was conducted in 2007, according to a March 20 Chicago Tribune report.

The Loop Alliance is the sole service provider for State Street Special Service Area (SSA) No. 1 and specifically works with businesses and potential investors across State Street to create stronger strategies for understanding clientele. The Springboard pedestrian counters will be a part of a three-year contract the Loop Alliance has with Springboard—a U.K.-based company that helps monitor retail performance—and the system will cost $65,000 to install and maintain in its first year and $51,000 for the following two years, according to the Tribune report.

Springboard provides pedestrian counters in cities such as Vancouver and London to calculate the pedestrian traffic in a given zone—a section of sidewalk that the counter analyzes. Springboard then takes the information collected and breaks it down into useful data for clients in the area to utilize the next day, said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director. 

Wehrle said the pedestrian counters are a practical investment for business owners looking for effective ways to market their products and evaluate which initiatives are successful. 

“Our goal is to help our clients understand how they trade,” Wehrle said. “Whether that be a downtown or a retailer, it’s all about helping them understand whether they’re successful, whether they’re improving and help them understand and demonstrate the success of their initiatives,” Wehrle said.

The pedestrian counters will be placed on State Street from Wacker Drive to Congress Parkway to monitor pedestrian traffic trends, according to Elizabeth Neukirch, a Chicago Loop Alliance spokesperson. She said the usefulness of the device being on State Street is to give potential retailers a look at how many pedestrians will be walking past their stores and how to accommodate those pedestrians.

“By tracking 24/7 the amount of people that are on State Street, we can show greater value to those current business owners and potential investors that want to come downtown, particularly to State Street,” Neukirch said.

In regards to tourism, Neukirch said Springboard is looking to increase accommodations for tourists rather than bring more tourists in.

 “It’s useful on different levels … We can track how many people come downtown for certain events.” Neukirch said. “We can work with the police department to figure out if we need extra staff for major events.”

Jae Blackmon, a sales associate at the Crocs store, 17 E. Monroe St., the pedestrian counters are an important asset when it comes to selling products because now they will know when to have sales and promotions.

“We can see how to market and when to set up specific promotions,” Blackmon said. “I think it’s a good idea.”

Like Blackmon, Lorrie Riley, manager at Zara, 1 W. Randolph St., said she is also in favor of the pedestrian counters because Zara is in the Block Thirty Seven mall. Because the mall is under construction, Zara would like to know how many people walk past its store every day and how it can maintain the same amount of traffic.

“I don’t think it hurts to ever have more information about the kind of clientele base we have or how many people are passing our businesses,” Riley said.