USDOT announces semi-finalists in its safety data visualization and analytics competition


The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced the five semi-finalists that are advancing to the next stage of its ‘Solving for Safety Visualization Challenge’, which sought innovative analytical tools that can improve safety on the country’s road and rail systems.

The challenge was created to advance the use of safety data visualizations for answering analytical questions related to surface transportation system safety. Analytical visualization tools can cast new light on the data to reveal insights into safety and prevention of serious crashes not seen through traditional analysis. The five semi-finalists were selected from 54 submissions that were chosen from the pool of proposals evaluated by USDOT’s technical experts after the challenge was announced in June.

The five semi-finalists are:

• Arity (Chicago) will incorporate algorithms using its connected vehicle and driver behavior data to explore the relationship between driving behavior and road design in order to improve highway safety;

• Ford Motor Co. (Detroit) will combine traditional crash data with connected vehicle and driver behavior data derived from their research, social media and population data in order to determine crash risks, test solutions, and evaluate results to improve highway safety;

• The University of Central Florida (Orlando) will integrate a variety of real-time and static traffic data in order to allow state and local transportation professionals to use predictive analytics and diagnose real-time safety conditions;

• Uber (San Francisco) will combine, its web-based tool that visualizes large-scale geolocation data sets, and historical speed data collected from Uber trips with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data in order to allow local transportation professionals to better visualize traffic safety data in metropolitan areas;

• VHB (Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc.) (Raleigh, North Carolina) will use pedestrian avatars and apply game theory techniques to help the decision-maker ‘see’ potential safety improvements from the pedestrian’s perspective in order to inform state and local transportation professionals.

The USDOT has invited each semi-finalist to advance to Stage II of the competition, which challenges contestants to create proofs of concept for their analytical visualization tools. After demonstrating their prototype, two finalists will be invited to develop their proofs of concept into full working tools. Stage I was a six-week ideation development stage in which applicants provided a conceptual idea of the proposed analytical visualization tool. Following Stage II, finalists will enter a third stage in which they will develop their proofs of concept into full working tools and compete for a portion of the US$250,000 final prize.

“These advanced applications show the potential for data-driven safety solutions that the Department wants to support,” said Under Secretary of Transportation, Derek Kan. “Combining new sources of data, new methods of data integration, and new means to visualize and communicate the insights from this data, can help the Department provide tools to transportation professionals, public safety officials, and the public that can save lives.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).