The modern age can accurately be defined as the era of big data, but the true extent to which data analytics can improve our lives is only just being realized. Information operations are springing up left, right, and center to cater to a growing demand for valuable business insights, but we'll soon see data analytics used for public initiatives like reducing traffic deaths alongside of private enterprise.
Can data analytics reduce traffic deaths? We have plenty of good reasons to believe that the future of infrastructure and the nature of the tech industry today will soon make traffic deaths more manageable than ever before.
We're collecting more accurate information than ever
In the past, one of the biggest challenges associated with reducing traffic deaths was collecting accurate information. Knowing why an accident happened, when it occurred, and how similar collisions may be avoided in the future are essential parts of saving pedestrian lives, yet law enforcement officials and automotive industry professionals were often left scratching their heads and making educated guesses. Thanks to the rise of digital technology, however, we're collecting more accurate information than ever on the road towards saving innocent lives.
Real-time data analytics operations are springing up to give law enforcement officials incredibly rapid feedback whenever a collision has occurred, for instance. Whereas we used to have to sit around and wait for the data to trickle in slowly, modern traffic operations are inundated with a flood of driving data that can be reviewed for useful insights that can be harnessed to save lives. Researchers at the University of Central Florida have already demonstrated that they can work with city officials to create fatality-free roads where people are more comfortable driving.
We can't reduce traffic deaths until we learn to properly harness the information we collect, however, so it's worth exploring the future of infrastructure development and how it will be reshaped by the rise of data analytics. Tomorrow's roads, highways, bridges, and crosswalks will be complete with a wide array of sensory technology that helps determine when our public infrastructure is crumbling well-ahead of time so that repairs can be made to save lives, for instance. Future "smart cities" will have roads so intelligent that they may even be able to ping authorities when a new pothole surfaces!
Cameras, sensors, and city vehicles are turning into smart assets that are great a saving lives. Privacy concerns continue to abound, however, so our efforts to reduce traffic deaths must also grapple with the fact that we can't become too much of a surveillance state in our effort to save human lives. Hopefully, more cities and automobile companies alike will embrace policies of transparency where they release the data they collect to the public so our efforts to mitigate traffic deaths don't become tainted with allegations of spying.
Future drivers will be more prepared
Perhaps the most effective way that data analytics can reduce traffic deaths, as well as 2 million injured a year, is by preparing future drivers by warning them about hazardous driving conditions. Multinational initiatives like Hopper are already promising to warn drivers when the road in front of them is wet or has recently been marred by a traffic collision, for instance, and that small warning might be all that some drivers need to save their lives. As civic tech startups like Hopper become more popular, our roadways will become safer.
City officials will also know which parts of their turf are the most dangerous in the future thanks to the help of better sensory technology. Modern bureaucrats are already hard at work figuring out which local roadways are in dire need of repair, but sensory technology will allow them to determine when a bridge is decaying before it even starts to crumble. Furthermore, particularly dangerous areas will quickly be flagged as being in need of getting shut down or repaired to avoid traffic deaths.
Finally, we can use machine learning to literally predict where car accidents are likely to occur before they happen, so don't be fooled into thinking that data analytics can only be used as a tool of hindsight. As a matter of fact, the future of reducing traffic deaths will likely heavily revolve around preventing accidents from ever happening in the first place rather than responding to them more efficiently. The future can be intimidating at times, but it's also likely to be much safer thanks in part to the rise of data analytics.