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Utilising Engineering and Technology to Improve Road Safety

Photo Credit: University of Queensland

With the use of engineering technology, a team led by researchers from Australia’s University of Queensland is aiming to address the issue of losing more than 1.25 million lives on roads each year.

As reported, the Engineering and Technology project relied on video technology, deep learning, artificial intelligence and advanced econometrics in order to improve road safety.

Professor Simon Washington, a Civil Engineer and Researcher from the University, explained that by using advanced video analytics technologies for road safety, they were able to measure and detect interactions among road users.

These will serve as reliable predictors of future crashes as this data can help determine how roads can be improved in order to prevent crashes.

The technology is estimated to have the potential to eliminate approximately 540 crashes in South East Queensland each year. This equates to about AU$ 40 million in reduced crash-related costs.

The Professor worked with Professors from The University of British Columbia and Queensland University of Technology, bringing together more than 70 years of research experience.

About the Road Safety Engineering Technology

  • The team developed a complex set of algorithms that can relate information about interactions among vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, to crash risks.
  • These algorithms allow researchers to predict where and when crash risks are greatest.
  • This technology had already been implemented in 20 cities in eight countries around the world, which had resulted in improvements to a number of intersections.
  • In addition, the team had also partnered with the Department of Transport and Main Roads to roll out a pilot of the technology locally.
  • The project was part of a significant partnership between the University and the state government in supporting innovation.
  • This pilot project with Transport and Main Roads will help build on the knowledge gained from the implementation of the technology in other cities.
  • Transport and Main Roads’ Director (Safer Roads) Simon Harrison shared that blackspots were previously identified mainly through reported crashes.
  • However, there is now greater focus on proactive methods.
  • This research into video analytics has the potential to improve the way safety issues are identified before a crash trend develops.
  • The team is working towards Vision Zero, which means zero road deaths and serious injuries. This intervention makes them one step closer to implementing engineering solutions before anybody gets seriously hurt.

Boosting Conservation Efforts for Migratory Species

  • In other news, an online mapping and knowledge platform prototype could soon offer free and easily accessible information on the migratory patterns of endangered species in the ocean.
  • Recently launched by the University’s Dr Daniel Dunn, the Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO) system is an online tool that could help better inform conservation efforts and the sustainable use of oceans worldwide.
  • Migratory species including sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds and fish, travel thousands of kilometres each year.
  • They often go through ocean habitats at severe risk from human threats like overfishing, pollution, marine debris and climate change.
  • MiCO links the large amount of data on migratory species being gathered by researchers with environmental managers or policy-makers, who lack the capacity, time and budget to analyse the data.
  • This provides a single, unified access to treasure troves of knowledge for direct use in policy and management.
  • Migratory species connect economies and ecosystems in a way that requires a shared approach to governance.

Collaboration is Key

MiCO is a growing consortium of more than 50 international organisations including data repositories, national observing systems, taxa conservation groups, museums, non-governmental environmental organisations, universities, intergovernmental organisations and UN bodies.

The international collaboration included Duke University, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre, and a team of 71 international researchers.

It has been funded via a grant to the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative from the International Climate Initiative of The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

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