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Ford uses data to predict traffic accident hotspots

Ford has developed a data-driven solution that could help to identify where traffic incidents are likely to occur – and then enable city authorities to take pre-emptive action.

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It is often only after accidents have occurred that particular junctions or stretches of road are identified as problematic for drivers, cyclists or pedestrians.

 

Ford has come up with a means by which big data could potentially help cities identify locations which, if nothing is done, are most likely to be the scene of future traffic incidents.

 

Near misses

 

Ford Smart Mobility spent the last year recording vehicle and driver behaviour in and around London. The company tracked vehicle journeys in the city and logged detailed driving data, from driving events such as braking, the severity of that braking, and where hazard warning lights were applied.

 

This helped to identify near-misses. Ford then cross-referenced this information against existing accident reports and built an algorithm to determine the likelihood of where future incidents might occur.

 

Jon Scott, project lead at City Data Solutions, Ford Smart Mobility, said: “We believe our insights have the potential to benefit millions of people. Even very small changes could make a big difference – maybe cutting back a tree that has obscured a road sign – whether in terms of traffic flow, road safety or efficiency.”

 

Even very small changes could make a big difference – maybe cutting back a tree that has obscured a road sign – whether in terms of traffic flow, road safety or efficiency.

 

This idea, among others, is outlined in the new Ford City Data Report. The report’s findings are based on data on over 15,000 days of vehicle use, from 160 connected vans in the city. The fleet of vans covered more than 1 million kilometres, the equivalent of 20 times around the earth, and delivered 500 million data points.

 

Applying data

 

Participants in the study agreed to equip their vehicle with a simple plug-in device that recorded the journey data and then sent it to the cloud for analysis.

 

Data scientists from Ford’s Global Data Insight and Analytics team were then able to analyse the information through an interactive dashboard. This technology could be applied in any road environment, not just in cities, Ford says.

 

The report also investigated other opportunities, such as how scheduling delivery van journeys for earlier in the day, before peak times, could benefit all road users, and how using journey data could help to identify the best locations for electric vehicle charging points.

 

Download the full report

 

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