Deploying data to improve road safety

02 December 2020

2 December 2020

The Data for Road Safety initiative in Europe is looking to the long-term deployment of a Safety-Related Traffic Information (SRTI) ecosystem. By exchanging live data from vehicles, infrastructure and crowdsourcing, drivers can be kept abreast of dangerous conditions. At a fundamental level, the ecosystem exists through a model of reciprocity, with safety data offered in return for services.

With the signing of a multi-party agreement (MPA) by automotive manufacturers, suppliers, road traffic authorities EU member states and technology providers, the initiative moves from its ′proof-of-concept’ stage to long-term deployment.

Lasting five years, this agreement sets out the technical and organisational framework for the operation of the SRTI ecosystem. It states how safety data from multiple brands and countries can be made accessible within the system in a ′fair and trustworthy manner.’ Alongside this, the agreement defines the various roles and responsibilities which exist down the SRTI value chain.

Technology-led

Many new vehicles now boast a significant number of technological abilities, capable of detecting dangerous road conditions and warning the driver where necessary. Road operators are also capable of picking up on risks through roadside infrastructure.

But this level of information is useful to other road users and operators, which is where the Data for Road Safety initiative comes into play. Members believe that regardless of vehicle brand or navigation application, all road users should have access to a consistent minimum set of safety information, which would help them make better decisions.

So, between June 2019 and October this year, members of the initiative conducted a proof–of-concept test of a decentralised data collection architecture. This involved providing the ecosystem with tens of millions of messages. Vehicles proved capable of producing data for five of the eight SRTI categories including; unprotected accident area, broken-down vehicle, temporary slippery road, reduced visibility and exceptional weather conditions.

The ecosystem already appears to be having a positive effect on road safety. Data for Road Safety points towards the acceleration of the deployment of emergency services and recovery companies by public authorities. The exact location of collisions and break downs was shared with service providers within seconds who could then warn other road users.

′A win-win situation’

′The Data for Road Safety ecosystem is a public-private partnership that delivers enriched data to improve road safety in a very tangible way, so it is a win-win situation for society as a whole,’ said ‘Joost Vantomme, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) smart-mobility director and first chairman of the new SRTI ecosystem. ′The vehicle manufacturers participating in the project are willing to share data on a daily basis, and will continue their endeavours to contribute to the SRTI data ecosystem, together with all partners.’

As the new chair of the initiative, ACEA will take over from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Data for Road Safety is continuing to call for more stakeholders to join the SRTI ecosystem and contribute fresh input.

As the automotive world looks to greater data utilisation to improve road safety, it must bear in mind two things. First, the protection of data and any systems which use them. Back in May this year ACEA welcomed new guidelines drafted by the European Data Protection Board on personal data and connected vehicles. But there still appears to be room for greater definition within the draft, with the association pointing out the need for a more robust set of rules which provide EU authorities with a good common understanding of the practical applications.

Secondly, with different governmental bodies, manufacturers and technology companies all realising the potential application and value of vehicle data, greater effort must be made to achieve a unified approach. Many divided systems would only lead to confusion and the potential for data misuse. If this happens, when given a choice, consumers would naturally opt not to share their data for fear of misappropriation.