Las Vegas is working with a machine learning company to predict traffic accidents in the city. The pilot scheme, beginning in September, will see the state government work with WayCare, an Israeli company, to direct emergency services to problem areas before accidents have occurred. The predictive technology also allows the authorities to make better-informed decisions about where to send emergency vehicles, shaving minutes off response times.
Results & Impact
The pilot with WayCare in Las Vegas will begin in September, but the company has already achieved success in previous programs. In Israel, it successfully predicted 70% of accidents on the busy Ayalon Highway two hours in advance. The US remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for road users, with more than 32,000 deaths and two million nonfatal injuries from vehicle crashes recorded every year. In Nevada, the Office for Traffic Safety reported 321 traffic fatalities in 2015, a 10.3% increase on the previous year. WayCare’s technology can help to prevent incidents outright or significantly shorten the time needed to respond.
Regional Transport Commission of Southern Nevada, WayCare, Nevada Centre for Advanced Mobility, Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada Department of Transportation.
The Regional Transport Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) has agreed to work with WayCare on a six-month trial, during which their technology will be tested on two highways in Las Vegas. WayCare analyses large sets of data covering an extensive range of factors, from weather through to the position of broken down vehicles on roadsides, allowing them to identify trends in traffic accidents. Likely areas for accidents can then be identified, allowing transport authorities in Nevada to send responders in advance of an incident occurring. It also aims to improve decision-making at short notice and reduce emergency services’ response times. Through limiting the number of incidents and dealing with those which do occur at a faster pace, the RTC plans to reduce traffic congestion around Las Vegas, thereby increasing road capacity without needing to expand highways. The pilot scheme will monitor sections of two highways in Las Vegas: the Interstate 15 running next to the world-famous strip, and the US-95 on the west side of downtown Las Vegas. If successful, the RTC plans to expand the scheme to cover more of the Nevada transport system.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Cost & Value
The initial six-month contract runs to tens of thousands of dollars. Officials at the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada estimate that improved efficiency in the traffic system could delay the need to expand the highways by five years.
The scheme is currently in its preparation and planning stage, in advance of the roll-out scheduled for September.
There are a number of government bodies in Nevada who will have to work closely with WayCare, and communication between these was highlighted as a potential obstacle to the scheme’s success. Nevertheless, officials are optimistic with the progress of discussions so far. The RTC has already begun to link its dispatchers with WayCare and its technology so that potential difficulties can be spotted and worked out in advance.
WayCare ran a trial on all the incidents that occurred on the Ayalon Highway in Israel in 2015 to test their technology. They have since looked to expand into the US, and are currently setting up similar pilots in Fort Lauderdale and New Jersey.
Las Vegas has commissioned a pilot scheme with a data analytics and machine learning company to reduce the number of accidents on the city’s roads.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) and WayCare will begin the pilot in September. WayCare plans to analyse an extensive range of data to predict traffic accidents, allowing the state’s traffic and law enforcement bodies to allocate resources more effectively.
“[The scheme] provides valuable insights so that responses can be quicker, even just by a couple of minutes, which can make a big difference in getting the responders to the scene, minimising the traffic and the potential for secondary incidents,” said Brian Hoeft, Director of Traffic Management at the RTC.
In a pilot on Israel’s Ayalon Highway – the busiest in the country – Waycare predicted traffic accidents two hours in advance with 70% accuracy. WayCare analyses an extensive range of factors including weather, roadworks, or special and uncommon events, allowing data scientists to identify trends that commonly lead to traffic incidents. They can then identify trouble spots where accidents are likely to occur.
Using WayCare’s technology, the RTC will direct respondents to trouble spots in advance of potential incidents to prevent them from occurring, or place responders on standby in high-risk areas. The aim is to save both time and money and help to prevent further accidents.
The Nevada Centre for Advanced Mobility (CAM), which aims to connect innovative private sector companies and government, connected WayCare with the RTC in late 2016. The two bodies agreed to work together on a six-month pilot to begin in September, which will cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The project has progressed from the planning stage to the implementation of the pilot in less than a year. Hoeft attributes this to good communication between public and private bodies. “One of the reasons it works so well in Las Vegas is that we have proven that our various government agencies work very well together, and also work very well with members of the private sector,” said Hoeft.
Through better management of the transport system, WayCare and the RTC aim to reduce congestion and traffic build up on Las Vegas highways, allowing the city to build up its capacity. Hoeft estimates that the new technology could delay the necessity to add extra lanes to the highway by five years.
The pilot will cover two highways running through Las Vegas, the Interstate 15 running next to the world-famous strip, and the US-95 on the west side of downtown Las Vegas.
“It’s a nice comparison: two freeway segments with two different personalities,” said Hoeft. He said the pilot will test the effectiveness of the data analysis on a busy interstate versus a traditional commuter freeway.
The US has the highest rate of vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 members of the population, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the rate of vehicle crash deaths fell by 31% between 2000 and 2013, this still amounts to over 32,000 deaths and two million non-fatal injuries each year. On average, the 19 other countries profiled saw a much higher reduction in the rate of deaths: 56% over the same period. The Nevada Office of Traffic Safety reported that 330 traffic fatalities occurred on Nevada roads in 2016, a 1.2% increase on the previous year.
WayCare has run a number of successful pilots in Israel and the US, but the Nevada project will be its most extensive deployment in the US to date. It has also worked with the Israeli National Road Safety Authority and is setting up programmes in Fort Lauderdale and New Jersey.
Hoeft hopes this scheme will be a success and lead to a further expansion of the WayCare project. “Depending on how this goes, we can start looking at other freeways,” he said. “It has so much value and could take over exciting tools we use.”
The planning stages are progressing well, with the RTC organising meetings between government workers at all stages – from dispatchers to the highway patrol and tow-truck operators – and WayCare. The company is making sure all agencies are made aware of the benefits of the technology and how to use it.
In the near future, the scheme is likely to expand. CAM is aiming to foster the use of autonomous vehicles in Nevada, which could in turn be used to collect data for WayCare’s system. Hoeft anticipates that should the scheme prove successful in Nevada, other cities in the US will be keen to implement their own.
(Picture credit: Pixabay/Jon Kline)