BlueCity vs. inductive loops

Learn whether inductive loops are the right traffic data collection tool for your needs and how lidar can serve as an effective alternative option

Inductive loops for traffic management and their alternative

Inductive loops are the most common traffic sensors. Used in many cities around the world, they were developed to detect the presence of passing vehicles on the road and at intersection.

While inductive loops help urban planners know when and how many cars are at an intersection, they have several significant disadvantages:

  • Inability to distinguish between types of vehicles or road users
  • Costly to install and maintain
  • Do not provide any additional traffic information
  • Have a lifespan of only 3 to 7 years

To address these shortcomings, new solutions for collecting traffic data have emerged, such as radar, video cameras and lidar sensors.

BlueCity, which combines 3D lidar sensors with AI software, is an ideal, cost-effective solution for urban planners and engineering firms who want to better understand and improve smart city mobility. Cities can get the best planning results by capturing multimodal, traffic data in real time thanks to lidar sensors and AI-based analytics. This powerful and cost effective solution allows you to collect traffic data, including identifying different types of road users, 24/7 regardless of lighting or weather.


DetectionInductive loopBlueCity (lidar + AI)
Detects presence of vehicles
Measures all modes of transport
Detects speed
Detects trajectory
Detects post encroachment time
Works in any weather
Works in any lighting
User-defined virtual loops
Counts number of near misses
Detects red-light runners
Detects illegal turning
No collection of private citizen data
Provides signal performance measures
Reporting and AnalyticsInductive loopBlueCity (lidar + AI)
See real-time live feed
Uses AI for real-time decision-making
Customizable dashboards
Predictive analysis
Crosswalk occupancy data
Estimates pedestrian crossing time
Provides time to collision analysis
No additional bandwidth required
Installation and MaintenanceInductive loopBlueCity (lidar + AI)
Easy to install
Inexpensive installation
One sensor per intersection required
Easy maintenance
Inexpensive maintenance


Can inductive loops detect cyclists and pedestrians? No.

Inductive loops were developed to detect the metal in cars or trucks or other vehicles. They cannot detect road users, such as pedestrians. Motorcyclists and cyclists can be difficult to detect because pavement deterioration, improper installation and street repair can impair a loop’s integrity and degrade a loop’s performance.

Are inductive loops easy to install and maintain? No.

In order to install inductive loops, roads must be dug up, causing road closures. The installation is intrusive, takes time and is expensive.

Are inductive loops accurate? Yes.

Inductive loops provide accurate results in ideal conditions. This means that the pavement at the intersection has not deteriorated badly, installation was done properly and that the useful life of the inductive loops has not passed.

Other factors that negatively affect accuracy include traffic density, vehicle movement and traffic composition.

Can inductive loops tell which way a car is turning? No.

Inductive loops can sense when a car has passed over the detection area. They cannot detect the speed or trajectory of the vehicles, limiting the amount of useful data they can provide to traffic and city planners.

Can inductive loops tell which intersections are dangerous? No.

Inductive loops can only provide information about the number of vehicles that have passed over the detection area. This type of information cannot indicate whether an intersection is dangerous, only whether it is busy.

Inductive loop summary


Inductive loops have been a popular choice for about 60 years and have been adopted in many countries. They accurately provide information about the number of vehicles that have passed over the loops’ detection area.


Inductive loops cannot provide information about the type of road user, speed, trajectories and other detailed traffic information that is vital for improving road safety. They are also expensive to install and maintain.

The best alternative: Lidar + AI

BlueCity is a unique, cost-effective solution that allows planners to capture multimodal traffic data in real time, 24/7. BlueCity’s lidar sensors are easy to install and maintain and most intersections require only one sensor. BlueCity leverages artificial intelligence to power advanced safety analytics that help identify dangerous intersections and improve road safety.

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