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How Data-Sharing Is Making Roads Safer And Cities Smarter

November 2, 2015 at 8:30 AM

It seems to be a topic of conversation everywhere you go, and now the Internet of things (IoT) and a growing data-sharing culture is helping make the world a safer place - one missing drain cover and pothole at a time.

Luxury vehicle manufacturer, Jaguar, announced earlier this year that future releases of their Land Rover off-road vehicle fleet are to be equipped with sensors that detect and warn drivers of potholes or missing drain covers ahead. The motoring company is also working with local UK municipalities to understand how IoT technology can help address road safety more efficiently. According to Coventry City Councillor, Rachel Lancaster, “As part of our ‘Smart Cities’ strategy, we will be investigating how Jaguar Land Rover’s Pothole Alert system could supply us with data in real-time from thousands of connected cars right across our road network. This could give us a very accurate, minute-by-minute picture of damage to road surfaces, manholes and drains in real time.”

Fixing potholes and mending fences through data-sharing

The Johannesburg Road Agency’s (JRA) Find and Fix app  is helping to eradicate problems relating to potholes, missing drain covers and faulty traffic signals by reporting road hazards instantly via mobile users’ geolocations. Developed in partnership with Microsoft, the app also facilitates image attachments to help assess the extent of reported hazards more efficiently. Moving beyond road safety, the Erkhuleni Municipality has fostered a much-needed sense of inclusion with a community with whom its relationship has at times been somewhat strained. Improving service delivery by leveraging the power of IoT has paid dividends with residents buying into the concept of data-sharing as a means of empowerment. With +5000 downloads on the Windows, Android and iOS platforms, Find and Fix is helping the municipality not only reduce road accidents, but also build a stronger relationship with the community it serves.

How data-sharing is making cities safer

In the city of New York, USA, police departments are moving from reactive to proactive patrolling thanks to predictive data modelling that identifies areas, events and other scenarios that require higher levels of crime prevention to keep residents safe. Police officers also receive real-time updates on their way to crime scenes that inform them on the surrounding area, its inhabitants and the propensity for further criminal activity. The Domain Awareness System, also developed in partnership with Microsoft, was launched in 2012 to help curb crime in the world’s second biggest city and has done so with considerable results. In the year following its inception, the New York Police Department (NYPD) reported 35% fewer murders, a 17% drop in car break-ins and a 16% decrease in person-to-person robberies.

Imagining a new world with data at its centre

IoT’s omnipresence might seem a little scary to those with a more Orwellian slant to their worldview, but for the more pragmatic, the opportunities couldn’t be more exciting. With Moore’s Law in full effect regarding the evolution of computing capacity and much of the foundational infrastructure in place, we’re inching closer to a reality that involves the animation of once static devices into truly smart devices. With this internet-driven revolution in full swing, pioneering companies are well-positioned to pick the low hanging fruits of our interconnected society and move on to break new ground as they venture further into the possibilities of the digital unknown.

At Principa, we believe in data’s ability to help us push past perceived boundaries to discover new possibilities. We partner with our clients to help them realise the potential in their information assets and deliver results consistently. 

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Julian Diaz
Julian Diaz
Julian Diaz was Head of Marketing for Principa until 2017, after which he became Head of Marketing for Honeybee CRM. American born and raised, Julian has worked in the IT industry for over 20 years. Having begun his career at a major software company in Germany, Julian made the move to South Africa in 1998 when he joined Dimension Data and later MWEB (leading South African ISP). Since then, Julian has helped launch various South African technology brands into international markets, including Principa.

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