A Contest Seeking Innovative Tools to Analyze Traffic Crash Data

By CIOReview | Monday, September 3, 2018
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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,987 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2017. Concerned about this status quo in highway fatalities in recent years, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a national multistage competition intending to help policymakers, transportation providers, and the public analyze risk on transportation safety systems. The competition—Solving for Safety: Visualization Challenge—focuses on encouraging technology firms and safety stakeholders to create data visualizations tools to elucidate important stats on solving the highway safety problem. DOT is seeking two types of tools that will help analyze the traffic systems: discover insight tools and simulation tools. The discover insight tools will be used to analyze data to reveal patterns and trends. Data visualization will then be utilized to interpret and understand the meaning behind the stats to draw conclusions.

Similarly, the simulation tools will assist in decision-making. By applying mathematical and statistical models to identify issues, determine correlations, and assign probabilities with accuracy, these tools will provide the necessary information needed. These tools collectively will change the way transportation safety is approached. “Recent innovations in data analytics and visualization tools enable public and transportation providers to understand risk at the system level, and develop tools that can provide insights which will lead to new, life-saving strategies,” says Derek Kan, Under Secretary for Policy, U.S. DOT. Weather, road conditions, and the time of day are important factors that must be taken into consideration for sophisticated analysis. All of this together results in clear, compelling data visualizations that can be used to mitigate traffic crashes.

DOT’s aim for the competition is to find solutions that will reverse the current trend, rapidly detect changes that indicate unsafe conditions, and reduce transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries. The competition is open to individuals and teams from the business and research communities, including technology companies, analytics firms, transportation carriers, industry associations, research institutions, universities and mapping and visualization providers. A panel consisting of cross-functional technical experts and senior level staff will judge the competition and select finalists, who will compete for a prize of $350,000. Over a period of six months, the participants will have to solve for safety, use innovation and creativity to come up with tools that provide life-saving insights for transportation safety.