AI data mining project to improve NSW road safety

Friday, 10 September, 2021

AI data mining project to improve NSW road safety

A new initiative in NSW is designed to use artificial intelligence technology for road safety improvements and to reduce vehicle-related fatalities.

Led by Transport for NSW (TfNSW), the project takes raw road data and converts it to an internationally standardised five-star rating system. Supported by the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre, the project sees TfNSW partner with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) and geospatial data experts Anditi.

The project will deliver up usable data for 20,000 km of NSW roads to the state government using TomTom’s MN-R next generation map data, as well as prove feature extraction techniques and machine learning for LiDAR data.

It aims to prove rapid, scalable and repeatable methods for road data extraction as part of iRAP’s global AiRAP initiative (accelerated and intelligent RAP data collection). The initiative will ultimately open up existing and emerging data sources for network-level road safety assessments throughout Australia and the world.

The Australian Government is linking infrastructure funding to “measurable improvements in safety” and state agencies are setting network and project-level star ratings before greenlighting public spending.

The 2018-2020 National Road Safety Action Plan set targets for 90% of travel on national highways and 80% of travel on state highways to meet a 3-star or better safety standard. To date, more than 280,000 km of roads have been star rated nationally.

The assessments involved identifying and recording more than 50 road attributes to the iRAP global standard every 100 metres, previously using painstaking assessment methods including video survey footage and manual recording.

IRAP’s Global Innovation Manager & Cities Specialist Monica Olyslagers is the project manager and said the use of AI and machine-learning would significantly speed up the task of star-rating roads to enhance public safety.

“Raising the standard of the world’s roads to a 3-star or better standard for all road users will help to focus policy and investment. With crash costs typically halving with each incremental improvement in star rating the potential for 3-star or better roads to save lives is significant,” Olyslagers said.

Between 1100 and 1200 people lose their lives on Australian roads each year, and more than 40,000 suffer lifelong, debilitating injuries.

“The use of artificial intelligence and machine-learning techniques to collect the data has potential to reduce costs and increase the frequency and accuracy of data,” Olyslagers said.

“Making faster and more affordable data collection possible means that safety assessments can be done on an annual basis across the whole road network.”

IMOVE CRC Managing Director Ian Christensen said improving road safety performance is a priority for all levels of government in Australia.

“Using technologies such as AI to enhance in our suite of safety policy tools is a great step forward. These powerful and insightful tools can inform sound investment by government that saves lives and unlock significant benefits to families, communities, business and health systems through reduced road trauma,” he said.

More information on the project is available on the iMOVE’s iRAP project page.

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