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November 10, 2016 3 min read

If we are to transform towns and cities into user-friendly transport hubs, the collection and analysis of data could prove crucial. With increasing numbers of cars, buses, taxis, lorries, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians populating our streets, accidents have become an inevitable part of urban life.

In Part One of our Smart Cities blog, we discussed how many ‘near misses’ involving cyclists go unreported. Whether it be a close call, or a minor graze, bump or shunt, a lot of incidents are often ignored. This irregular reporting means cycling accident statistics can often be skewed and not representative of what is actually happening in our busy town and city centres. If near misses are not reported, then we will never know how often they occur. How serious can they be? And are they enough to put people off cycling again?

A near miss can be described as ‘a narrowly avoided collision or other accident’.
It can also be ‘an event not causing serious harm, but has the potential to cause serious injury or death’. That’s the basic description, but assessing how often these incidents happen on our streets is harder to dissect. Why? Because we don’t have any tangible data to analyse.
Some projects have attempted to delve deeper into the habits and experiences of cyclists. There have been initiatives where cyclists were asked to log their own near misses, but such voluntary reporting will only lead to patchy results as not every cyclist will report an incident.

But what if we were able to gather crowdsourced data using cutting edge technology? What if local government agencies had access to real statistics on accident hot-spots? The number of cyclists on our streets is growing. Over 3 million people in the United Kingdom cycle on a weekly basis. They deserve a voice to help shape our transport culture, and data collected from their cycling journeys could help create a safer landscape.

Crowdsourced data could alert local councils and government agencies of accident hot-spots in their area. They could then act on this information by implementing road safety measures to reduce the threat of accidents for every road user. The data gives councils the power to be proactive when it comes to road safety, instead of reacting to incidents after they have happened. And this could help save lives.

In America, the Department of Transportation recently held the 2016 Summit for Safer People, Safer Streets in Washington D.C., which encouraged ideas from local leaders from 245 communities throughout the country for improving pedestrian and cyclist safety in light of the significant increase in fatalities.  Some of the action taken included fixing barriers to make streets safe, and developing pedestrian and bicycle networks. They also collected and tracked biking and walking data.

The collection of data is designed to improve many aspects of our lives, including road safety, and it is a movement that See.Sense continues to champion. One of company’s mission statements is to ‘enhance the safety, performance and enjoyment of cycling by bringing technology to the cutting edge of cycling design’. See.Sense’s award-winning ICON light uses built-in sensors and collects information on road conditions from its user to make cycling safer.

Our innovative ICON light can use anonymised data to help meet the challenges of smart and future cities. It can indicate near miss or accident hot-spots, identify potholes before they become visible and help provide urban planners with crucial information. Cyclists can then choose whether they want to upload this data to help create safer roads for everyone.

Towns and cities across the world are starting to embrace this technology. Not only can it promote road safety, but it is also being used to identify pollution hot-spots in congested city centres. As calls for action intensify, governments are having to look at ways of making their cities smarter - and safer. And by collecting crowdsourced data they have the ability to mould their future around real-life statistics, for the benefit of everyone.

In Part 3 of this Smart Cities blog we will look at how See.Sense is using its cutting edge technology in projects in Milton Keynes and Dublin.