Enrico Durbano, an Italian take on green mobility
As General Manager of Eco-Compteur, Enrico Durbano heads a medium-sized business in Brittany that has become the global leader of an industry it created: counting pedestrians and cyclists. This activity is essential in justifying and developing green mobility.
At first, the lyrical accent makes you wonder if you’re really talking to the director of a medium‑sized business in north-western France. But his name should have tipped you off: Enrico Durbano is from Italy. A water and forestry engineer by training, he probably never thought he would end up in Lannion, Brittany only to become, a few years later, the head of the global leader in counting pedestrians and cyclists in urban and natural areas. His success mirrors that of Eco-Compteur, the company he manages.
Enrico Durbano was born 60 kilometres south of Turin. After graduating in 2002, he followed his then wife to Lannion. He spent a year looking for a job, and then he met Christophe Milon, the founder of Eco-Compteur, a recently founded company with only two employees. The two men hit it off instantly. Milon, who had just begun to market a pedestrian counter his father had invented, was seeking to expand internationally, particularly into the Italian market, and hired Durbano. From that moment on, the little green mobility company never stopped growing – “in a niche market we created ourselves,” says Durbano, who is fluent in Italian, French, English and Spanish.
Operations in 54 countries
Eco-Compteur’s story began in the early 2000s, when it launched its first pedestrian counters on the “pink granite coast” in northern Brittany to measure the number of tourists coming to the area. Then in 2006 it diversified, buying the patent for a bicycle counter and then adapting and improving the device. However, “the first turning point was in 2008, when the city of Paris launched its shared bicycle system. It had an enormous impact, and made people realise that it was possible to steer public policy towards greener forms of mobility. The following year, our business really took off,” says Durbano. The Brittany-based company now supplies the largest cities in France, including Paris, Nantes, Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg. Even more impressively, its pedestrian and bicycle counters can be found all over the world, from Singapore and Sydney to Shanghai, Milan, London, New York, San Francisco, Montreal, São Paulo and beyond. “Today, we have operations in 54 countries, including Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and 75% of our revenue is from exports,” says Durbano, now at the head of the benchmark company in measuring green mobility flows.
Legitimising green mobility policy
Eco-Compteur can provide suitable solutions for all kinds of pedestrian and cycling zones, from city centres to bicycle routes, greenways, nature reserves, hiking paths and city parks. “We’ve even been asked to measure traffic in new cross-country sports such as mountain biking. Coastal and mountainside towns also want to quantify their tourist activity, which is much higher in the summertime.” Eco-counters are essential for analysing and understanding cyclist and pedestrian flows. They make it possible to know exactly how many people are visiting a tourist attraction or green mobility installation, how they are using it and, most importantly, how beneficial and appropriately placed it is. “Public authorities want to know if their green mobility policies are effective, and if the infrastructure and installations they’ve invested in work well and are increasing their user base. And if not, then they want to understand why,” says Durbano. By providing quantified, irrefutable data, Eco-Compteur makes it possible to justify the budget for green mobility solutions, and even obtain funding for new projects. “Once the local authorities have gathered data from our counters and started analysing it, they become addicted. They want to install devices in other locations too,” he says. “Our data provides them with an amazing communications tool.”
Innovation, the key to success
With “15% in annual growth for the last four years,” the Breton tech gem has continued to innovate tirelessly in order to stay on top. Every year, 15% of its revenue is reinvested in R&D. While the company’s core business is still green mobility, some of its counters can now distinguish between types of vehicles in city-centre mixed-traffic zones. Beginning in the second half of this year, the company will also launch a new device for counting kick scooters. Quanteo, the group to which Eco-Compteur now belongs, has also decided to expand its portfolio, acquiring Quantaflow in 2016, a specialist in counting pedestrians in shopping centres.