The Road to Smarter, Safer Cities
As cities become more connected and intelligent, many communities are looking to integrate increasingly advanced safety initiatives. With more than half the global population living in urban areas, road safety is becoming a core consideration for city planners. Telematics and related connected car technologies will be key enablers for many safety initiatives, used to collect the necessary data to enable and manage change. Geotab securely connects vehicles to the Internet, providing advanced web-based analytics to better manage commercial and public sector fleets, effectively creating a mobile smart sensor network of over 1.2M vehicles. As cities across the globe invest heavily in smart city and safety initiatives, vehicle data will become instrumental to their success.
Vehicles as Smart City Sensor Networks
By equipping public or private sector fleets with telematics technologies, vehicles become smart sensors on wheels, and entire fleets become mobile smart city sensor networks. This trend will only accelerate into the future as connected vehicles move beyond vehicle-to-network (V2N) applications into the realm of vehicle-to-everything (V2X), which has the potential to allow cars to communicate quickly, safely and securely with other vehicles, traffic lights, digital road signs, pedestrians and more. This will unlock new opportunities for safer roads through more efficient and reactive transportation systems. The catalyst for all of this is an open and secure connected vehicle platform, capable of producing amazing transportation-focused datasets and insights.
Safety Insights for Safer Roads
By leveraging connected vehicle datasets, Geotab has created a number of safety insights that can be used to assess dangerous traffic conditions and proactively communicate appropriate warnings to citizens where necessary, including high-risk driving areas, hazardous driving conditions, and traffic calming measures. These insights have the potential to be communicated directly to citizens to improve city-wide traffic safety and minimize the nearly 1.25 million road fatalities a year globally.
Hazardous Driving Areas
The most effective way to identify hazardous road segments and intersections is through the collection of data, including actual collision data, harsh braking activity, swerving activity, and other driving behaviors that are indicative of “near misses”. Furthermore, the collected data can be used not only to identify hazardous driving areas, but also to score these areas based on the frequency and severity of occurrences. The results can then be used to analyze dangerous traffic conditions per day of week or time of day, and proactively eliminate (or improve) the contributing factors. In many cases, these factors include inadequate signage, poor visibility, or improperly timed traffic signals.
For example, Geotab is working with many local municipalities to combine hazardous driving area data with publicly reported collision data to develop a capability for predicting future collisions. This is a powerful tool to mitigate future traffic collisions, reduce the number of traffic fatalities, and improve traffic throughput and level of service.
Hazardous Driving Conditions
Municipalities often use ambient temperature profiles to identify potential roadside freezing conditions. However, research has shown that roadside temperatures can vary wildly with respect to ambient air temperatures. For this reason, it is far more accurate to monitor roadside temperature when trying to identify potential roadside icing conditions, which is why some municipalities have started deploying in-pavement puck sensor and roadside monitoring equipment. Rather than deploying expensive sensors and camera systems however, existing vehicles can be used. Most vehicles today collect roadside temperature values, which can in turn be used to build out a regional roadside temperature map for the purpose of identifying and monitoring freezing conditions.
These high definition roadside temperature maps can be overlaid with local Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) and traction control usage to validate black ice conditions in specific areas. For example, if local roadside temperatures are below 32F, and the vehicles on this road segment are engaging ABS and traction control, this is a very good indication of icing conditions and/or heavy snow accumulation. As a result, municipalities can proactively deploy snow plows and salt spreaders to specific areas in need, and in turn prevent collisions and improve overall driving conditions. Public works departments can target specific regions or roads that are in need of snow/ice removal, and manage their winter operations more effectively.
Traffic Calming Insights
Geotab’s Smart City Insights can also be used to evaluate traffic calming initiatives in critical areas such as school zones. Traffic engineers can quickly assess the effectiveness of lane-narrowing, speed bumps, speed cameras and signage in school zones to determine their effect on local driving behavior. This can be accomplished by capturing speed, harsh braking, hard acceleration, and Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) events from vehicles in these areas. This kind of analysis allows cities to prioritize where traffic calming measures are needed, especially if there’s erratic driving behavior in close proximity to safety-sensitive zones.
Urban Analytics for Safer Cities
Connected vehicle solutions such as Geotab’s open telematics platform are actively collecting, normalizing, and securely aggregating more than 2.5B data points per day from vehicles across North America. By combining this data with third-party sources and applying machine learning and analytics, this data can be transformed into actionable smart city insights, which can in turn be used to predict traffic patterns, identify high-risk traffic areas, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and justify investments in digital infrastructure.
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