EXCLUSIVE: New AI from Siemens Mobility can see otherwise ‘hidden’ special events, and help enable social distancing

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A new Artificial Intelligence (AI) system from Siemens Mobility, known as EventFlow, can empower traffic managers with a whole new level of data about special events happening in a city, making planning more effective.

Using new algorithms to ‘scrape’ data from the internet the AI is able to pinpoint not only exactly where events will happen, but also predict how popular they are likely to be, and even suggest ways to lessen the impact these events might have on traffic and public transport systems.

While traffic managers will know about large events in their city, often small and medium size events go unnoticed until traffic starts building up. The AI can help see them in advance, and also factor in overlapping events and also other factors such as weather.

During Covid-19 lockdowns certain events, such as indoor concerts, are not happening so much. However, outdoor protests such as the recent Black Lives Matter events, are clearly still very much a possibility and with social distancing regulations, public transport must be planned even more carefully than before.

“One of the goals of EventFlow is also to help the transit agencies better plan their services, so that they can actually enable the social distancing,” says Priscilla Boyd, Siemens senior manager for data analytics. “That’s really important for hosting events, if we’re going to host responsibly. Transit agencies still want to be able to offer their services to the citizens, but they want to make sure that they’re doing it in a way that they can actually give some distance to people.

“Our goal ultimately is to use the event prediction as an input for more intelligent traffic control. So, if you have, for example, the system, showing that there will be three very popular events coming up in a particular area, you know there will be disruption there. So what we want to do is be able to use that mechanism to create more intelligent response plans, so that you can change signage in advance so that you can change the signal timing in advance and do that in a proactive way, but still have the traffic engineers and the operators validating everything along the way.”

Boyd was talking to Traffic Technology International editor Tom Stone in the latest edition of the TTI Podcast, in which she reveals more about the system, how it was made, and plans for the future.

For more on EventFlow don’t miss the forthcoming September edition of TTI magazine.

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About Author

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early 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).