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Could Cities Be Safer With AI?

Car accidents all too often lead to life-altering injuries and fatalities. Even during the pandemic-driven restrictions on travel and other movements, they continued globally. However, if you consider Spain alone, there were over 12,000 accidents in Madrid in 2020, resulting in 31 fatalities. In Barcelona, there were over 5,700 collisions, leading to 14 deaths.

Researchers at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain recently conducted a study to find out if city streets could be safer using AI (artificial intelligence). Spanish researchers used AI to analyze repeated patterns in road accidents. Artificial Intelligence (AI), like so many other revolutionary technologies in human history, can have a lasting impact on societies.

The recent research by The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) brought this interesting question to our attention, “Could cities be safer with AI?”

According to the researchers, the data collected could serve as a source for urban planners who want to find ways to minimize collisions and create safer streets for everyone. According to the researchers, the data they have obtained can be used to train neural networks to detect likely hazards in any area and create patterns associated with the probable hazards.

Cristina Bustos and Javier Borge, the head researchers, are working with algorithms that will assist traffic authorities in reducing the likelihood of accidents in urban areas. Congested urban areas are not going to disappear. Could AI actually be used to identify hazards and help traffic authorities reduce accidents? With an increasing number of deaths on the road, it is critical to put an end to road accidents and move towards providing a safer environment.

Accidents and Urban Areas: Is There A Connection?

According to the researchers, the visual layout of urban areas can impact the likelihood of an accident. According to Bustos, certain patterns in the urban scene’s layout can impact the accident rate. For Bustos, key factors in the urban scene layout include the following:

  • Arrangement of street furniture
  • Position of parked cars
  • Advertising and other aspects that can distract drivers

”Our results suggest that we have more than one hypothesis on our hands,” said Borge. According to Borge, it seems that the number of different elements in any scene corresponds with how many accidents take place there. The heart of the matter lies within understanding the reason for this correlation. Borge also stated:

“The AI pinpoints places that are potentially hazardous, but it doesn’t tell us why. That’s why we turn to certain interpretation techniques, such as those used in this study, which bring us closer to an answer. Although we need to pursue this research line further, there’s no doubt that traffic accidents happen for many reasons and a combination thereof. Our study shows that scene layout is a factor to bear in mind.” 

According to Borge, the researchers have formed a hypothesis that human cognitive limitations are impacted by the complexity of the urban scene. Borge stated, ”If a scene is very complex, there is more strain on my cognitive system, possibly dampening my ability to steer clear of unexpected events.” This is where the assistance of artificial intelligence will play a factor, applying algorithms to identify the most complex patterns.

Safety is Key

A safe city concept is one of the major objectives that will be needed to take a smart city to a higher level of development. The highest form of livability for residents in a city can be attained by providing them with everything available. Right now, AI is the only tool that can create a solid shield of protection for everyone.

As advancements continue to be made in technology and people become more aware of the impacts of technology, the exposure to threats will increase. Eventually, it will become a necessity to use AI to provide a shield of protection for cities. AI can be used as a safety mechanism that will enable cities to improve structures and services by deploying smarter technology and data in the right direction.

A unified network of intelligent systems that obtains public safety information and responds to events in real-time can ultimately make a city safer. Systems that use AI can make predictions of any potentially hazardous or suspicious activities that are taking place in the city. It is important to focus on what data needs to be collected at the right time and the right place. After gaining access to the data, it will be important to make proper decisions on how the data is processed and how that information is used to create a safer environment for residents.

The Need for Human Involvement

Accidents caused by faulty software continue to make headlines. Researchers used machine learning and artificial neural networks to perform an analysis of significant hours of video footage and various images of life in Madrid and Barcelona. This calls not so much for the use of hardware as for the future development of software.

This has determined to be quite a major challenge because of the following:

  • Continuous developments being made in the travel sector
  • Economic development
  • The need to do more with fewer resources, tools, and efforts

The Spanish researchers state their study supports Sustainable Development Goal 11 — to make cities ”inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than half of all deaths on the road are among “vulnerable” road users — pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

Any AI traffic mods running concurrently can cause significant problems either in performance or in the manner the aircraft acts. Technology convergence will pave the way for safer automated traffic lights with a reduced wait time. With AI comes crucial insights; the researchers believe city streets can become safer with the knowledge and expertise of engineers, architects, city planners, transport authorities, etc.

To make communities more resilient to hazards, there needs to be a greater understanding of what level of damage may be present in the future. Residents and policymakers need to be informed about whether buildings need to be strengthened or if people should be moved to other places. This is what AI can provide — the tools needed to create a more resilient built environment.

For more information on AI’s impact in urban cities or how AI solutions can be created, contact Schilling IT today. We offer high-quality business tech services and tech solutions for organizations of all sizes. Do you want to find out what services and solutions we can offer your organization? Call us today at (219) 359-3101 or email us at ask@schillingit.com.

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