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Pioneering study uses traffic cameras and AI to predict future, promising to save lives and money

In an effort to stop deaths and accidents attributable to crashes between autos, bikes and pedestrians, town of Bellevue, Wash., set out greater than 5 years in the past to foresee the longer term. The concept was to use machine studying to analyze hundreds of hours of video collected by 360-degree traffic cameras already put in citywide to establish potential crash sizzling spots and tease out harmful traffic patterns.

Town this week shared its first batch of reports from the groundbreaking program, which has drawn comparisons to “Minority Report,” the 2002 movie through which Tom Cruise anticipates and preemptively stops crime.

“Bellevue is main the way in which on this,” stated Roger Millar, Washington Secretary of Transportation. “The analytics and AI going into it’s doing rather a lot to predict and get rid of crashes.”

The project could aid Bellevue and different communities internationally which might be aiming for “Vision Zero” — a method began in Sweden with the aim of eliminating deaths and critical accidents from traffic collisions.

The Bellevue Division of Transportation venture examined collision shut requires autos, cyclists and walkers and calculated automobile speeds. The study demonstrated a powerful correlation between real-life crashes and the close to misses detected from the deep neural community, validating the usefulness of the strategy. It discovered total traffic security developments in addition to figuring out probably the most harmful intersections.

Vancouver, B.C.-based Transoft Solutions, a transportation know-how firm, did the video evaluation. The non-profit Together for Safer Roads paid for the study.

Among the many findings:

Within the U.S., street crashes are the leading cause of death for folks age 54 and youthful. Practically 40,000 folks die yearly in crashes and 4.4 million undergo accidents that require medical consideration. As well as to the lack of human life, collisions rack up billions of dollars in public and personal prices, together with medical care, emergency providers, property harm, lawsuits and misplaced office productiveness.

The standard strategy to street security was documenting crashes over a few years, ready for drawback websites to get observed and performing labor-intensive area research or consulting different analysis which may not be notably relevant looking for options. The AI-enhanced video evaluation creates a large shortcut.

Traditionally, “it takes five-plus years for a sample to emerge,” stated Franz Loewenherz, principal transportation planner for town of Bellevue.  “We’re ready to compress 5 years into one week.”

The Bellevue study analyzed footage collected over 4,500 hours throughout one week in September final yr, together with observations of 8.25 million street customers. The analysis targeted on 40 intersections all through town, tallying crash shut calls — which the transportation sector calls “conflicts,” with “vital conflicts” referring to the closest of shut calls.

Throughout that week, throughout these intersections, there have been 20,000 vital conflicts, the place autos, bikes or folks missed smashing into one another by solely two seconds.

In a metropolis that earlier this yr sparked privacy concerns over a program that shared stories of violators of the state’s COVID-driven “keep residence” order, some may fear concerning the knowledge collected by the cameras. Loewenherz stated the evaluation doesn’t collect license plate data, use facial recognition or present data to legislation enforcement.

Bellevue has already put in a brand new traffic gentle to present protected left turns at one intersection red-flagged by the study. A followup evaluation discovered that the change decreased vital conflicts by 60%. Town might be deciding on a brand new finances later this yr and may embrace funding for extra enhancements prompted by the analysis.

“Outcomes of the video analytics partnership work is nice information for all who need to enhance traffic security,” stated Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson by e mail. “If we will make the most of know-how and Bellevue’s cutting-edge traffic cameras to assist predict the place crashes will occur, we might give you the chance to stop them. Stopping incidents earlier than they occur is the strategy we want as we try to attain our Imaginative and prescient Zero aim.”

The venture kicked off five years ago with a partnership between Bellevue and Microsoft Analysis, whose engineers labored to develop software program to analyze the traffic digicam footage to categorize autos and pedestrians. In 2017, the College of Washington joined the venture, and the workforce tapped the general public to crowd-source some movies so as to assist prepare the pc fashions. Regardless of making progress, Microsoft axed the venture in 2018.

The infrastructure wanted for this form of monitoring is dear, and few communities can match Bellevue for its widespread deployment of cameras, or its community for managing the large quantity of knowledge produced. The cameras alone value $3,000 to purchase and set up; Bellevue has cameras at 120 of its intersections and plans to cowl all 200 intersections by subsequent yr. However governments together with Oregon’s Division of Transportation and Washington County west of Portland are exploring the usage of traffic cameras and analytics via non permanent digicam installations.

Bellevue’s analysis ought to present data that’s transferable to different areas keen to enhance street security.

With movies capturing the moments main up to collisions or close to misses, “they’re ready to see issues that in any other case you wouldn’t have seen in accident information,” stated Randy McCourt, president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), a world skilled group. “There’s rather a lot to be revealed, and numerous that is out on the leading edge.”

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