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Road safety in EU

A month ago, EU Observer, an “independent online newspaper which values free thinking and plain speech“, published an article with a provocative title “Why is road safety not higher on EU agenda?“.

Chart of fatalities on EU roads
Fatality rate development in the EU

Disregarding the somewhat sensationalistic title, the article draws attention to an important fact: While the union pledged in 2011 to halve traffic-related deaths by 2020, the reduction is not exactly going on any more. In the press releases “Road Safety: new statistics call for fresh efforts to save lives on EU roads” and “2015 road safety statistics: What is behind the figures?” the European Commission noted that its road are the safest in the world, but there has been no progress on this front since 2014 – two years in a row. The European Transport Safety Council seconded this with a press release of their own, “Urgent action needed on road safety as new figures show increase in deaths”.

Details of road fatalities by country - chart
Fatalities per million inhabitants by country

Diving into the wealth of charts accompanying the Commission’s press release, it is clear that the EU is divided between west and east in this regard, too. Should the eastern part somehow catch up, the targets would look far more reachable. Yet more alarming part of the statistics is that the vulnerable road users – pedestrians and bicyclists – saw hardly as much of improvement as vehicle occupants. Worth mentioning is that the statistics related to injuries have started being reported in a common format, which will enable better tracking of these injuries.

The various sources mention several ways forward, including passing new legislative – increasing protection of vulnerable road users and revisiting the 2008/96/EC directive on infrastructure. The ETSC specifically calls out delays to a number of such changes as critical. Apart from these, cooperative ITS is mentioned, and Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport, adds promotion of self-driving vehicles.

At DataFromSky, we take safety seriously, especially that of vulnerable road users. We are steadily working towards making our services and products better to help understand road users’ interactions – not just for vehicular traffic, but others too. We too hope that technology can contribute to these efforts. We do not mean better cars, however. Better understanding of what happens on the road, using methods exploiting IT and otherwise austere with physical resources: that is what we hope for – and what we bet on, too.

Sources:

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Excel exports

We would like to announce a new great feature – reports that can be opened in the most widespread spreadsheet editor of all time (so far). Yes, Viewer can now export a complete Excel sheet listing all the possible things you want to know, starting with turning movements and ending with with an image of the annotations. If you do not use Excel, no reason to be sad – the reports are completely readable in LibreOffice, too, and probably in most other spreadsheet editors.

As an example, here is a video from EXPO Milano. Not exactly from the exhibition though, rather from a nearby roundabout during afternoon. This is another video shot from a building, this time at a very poor angle – one of the legs is completely hidden. You can see easily that the roundabout is severely congested in the first few minutes of video. Looks like an overhaul might be needed…

The video included here is a short example, the total recording includes over sixteen hundred vehicles. Anyway, you are invited to take a look at what an excel report from such a place looks like:

XLSX Excel report from the video

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Video from Iceland

EFLA, an engineering company from Iceland, asked us for a demo of DataFromSky. They selected a roundabout in Selfoss, a town in Southern Region which is its administrative center. Its growth started after construction of a bridge over the river Ölfusá – the bridge that you see in the video is its later replacement. The roundabout also lies on the Icelandic Ring road.

In this demonstration survey, we tracked 300 vehicles which travelled 57 893 meters in total, averaging 193 m per vehicle. The average speed was 27 kph.

All commercial use of DataFromSky in the Nordic countries is handled by COWI, and key personnel can be contacted directly:

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Planned features

Bounding boxes mockup

We wish to share a couple of interesting features that will be coming to DataFromSky soon. Currently, DataFromSky understands vehicles only as points. This is an outcome of using the particular technology which we chose. However, this results in one very important drawback: We can’t tell real distance between vehicles. Incidentally, we hope for many applications, which would need precise measurement of distances starting from the actual metal, not an ideal point. After this introduction, it should come as no surprise that we are working on detection of vehicle bounding boxes. This will enable much better distance measurement for safety evaluations.

Another improvement in the pipeline is addition of anonymization functions. As you can imagine, aerial recording in urban areas results in a lot of areas being exposed, while they are assumed to be hidden from sight. To protect privacy, DataFromSky will allow marking of areas for blurring or blanking.

We hope to add this soon, so stay tuned for new versions!

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DroneBlog and Intertraffic Amsterdam

DroneBlog logo DroneBlog covered us a few days ago in a post called DataFromSky offers traffic analysis of aerial video data. Given that the blog is mostly for the drone sector, there is a lot of text dealing with traffic data collection basics and particulars. There is a bit of history behind DataFromSky as well – how a group of computer vision specialists got into traffic analysis.

Intertraffic logo In other news, we are at Intertraffic in Amsterdam and the concentration of minds and companies is spectacular. We hope to get some newsworthy partnerships and arrangements!

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Partnerships in Italy and Switzerland

A few days after announcing the previous business agreement, we are happy to announce also our new partnerships for the Italian and Swiss markets.

Partnerships in Italy

Trafficlab (part of the Progectolab group) is DataFromSky partner since half 2014 and is now the Official Distributor for Italy and Switzerland of the DataFromSky market. After a great promotion and sponsorship in Italy (Dronitaly 2014, Smart Mobility Forum 2014 and 2015) we are getting great satisfaction from our major trading partner. After a start slowed by regulatory difficulties for the overflight of drones in urban area, now the reliefs start increasing day by day.

But the news does not end here. Recently two exclusive contracts with ESSE8 society and TAU have been signed. The Italian market so increases with two important business partners who will play the roles of regional exclusive sale representative. The ESSE8 engineering company has an exclusive contract until 2017 for the Veneto and Campania regions and also cooperates on the development of software applications for road safety. The company TAU specialized in monitoring and traffic simulations, has also signed an exclusive agreement until 2017 for the Lombardia Region, and is holding a balloon specifically developed for aircraft traffic surveys.

For all the Italian and Swiss market informations you can contact the Trafficlab company at the following addresses:
DataFromSky Official Distributor for Italy and Switzerland, Andrea Marella, andrea.marella@datafromsky.com

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High-rise used for traffic monitoring in Trieste

We have been recently asked by a student of civil engineering from University of Trieste to analyze a video for his master’s thesis titled “The Design of Road Intersection“.

With this video, we can present another mode of use for DataFromSky, a first for us: Video shot from buildings. As you can imagine, the image is stable as a rock, and not too bad for just 45 meters at 13th floor. The covered area is rather small, but that does not matter much here. The area is quite confined anyway, with all the buildings around. One of the roads almost immediately disappears in a tunnel. To quote the author:

The analysed crossroad is an urban traffic-light intersection, located in the suburbs of the Municipality of Trieste. The intersection presents a substantial traffic flow especially in the morning and the evening hours. Most of the inhabitants which live in the suburbs of Trieste cross this road intersection to go to work, to school and to university.

Gate placement – click for Google maps. The building with camera is on the right.
Annotations

Origin-destination matrix

Exit gate 8 Exit gate 9 Exit gate 12 Exit gate 14 Exit gate 16 Exit gate 17
Entry gate 7 0 0 0 504 673 0
Entry gate 10 0 0 7 0 1 103
Entry gate 11 1 2 1 2 8 121
Entry gate 13 555 21 0 45 285 0
Entry gate 15 676 35 40 136 1 164

You can also take a look at the thesis abstract written by Ing. Erik Sferco:
PDF English version
PDF Italian version

In this survey, we tracked 3 617 vehicles which travelled 338 898 meters in total. Length of the analyzed video was about one hour. We are looking for partners from academic sphere as well! If you want to utilize DataFromSky approach in your research, do not hesitate to contact us.

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New version of Viewer

We have a new version of Viewer! You can download it at the home page, or use this direct link. The list of differences includes a lot of things, so let’s take a look at them one by one.

Gate angular sensitivity illustration

Gate angular sensitivity

Gates can count objects, and filter them based on their type. When we had to cope with chaos on the road in both directions, we added directionality. But sometimes all objects come chaotically from all directions, such as pedestrians. What then?

We now added a new setting for gates, where it is possible to select the angles under which objects must come. If their direction falls outside this angular range, the gate will not register them. With this functionality it is possible to handle yet another level of chaos and uncertainty, should you chance to record such behaviour.

On the left is a mock picture of the concept. Both gates have directionality set. The entry gate (15) has angular sensitivity of 90 degrees and the exit gate (7) has angular sensitivity of 15 degrees. Without directionality, the cones that depict the angle ranges would be on both sides. Note that angle of 90° means a right angle on both left and right: A bi-directional gate with angle of 90° (both default values) in fact accepts 180° on both sides, or 360°, and does not discriminate at all.

distance_measurement

Distance measurement

Now, DataFromSky Viewer users can measure exact distances between two or more points – even if there’s no road. This function is particularly helpful for a traffic engineer. To start using the new distance measuring tool, right click on any point on the image, and select “add point”. Then define another point on the image in the same way, and you will see the distance between them.

The precision depends on the quality of geo-registration procedure, but it is often better than 40 centimeters. The distances are showed in meters. You can also add multiple points to measure distances between them. If you make a mistake, select the point and move it on the right position.

Difference between detected and actual vehicle center

Vehicle center projection

This is not a feature of Viewer, but yet another good news, so here we go! We silently added this in the last months and forgot to mention it. We now project vehicle definition points onto ground. Typically, they lie in the visual center, but not actual vehicle center. This may not seem like much of a difference, but we missed somewhere between 0.2 to 1 meter that way! More importantly, this error is not homogeneous in any practical way, only for vehicles of the same height at the same place. Given that we meticulously correct for perspective and other factors, losing so much precision was not an option – particularly now that we started systematic work on precision and error quantification and improvement.

Improved load and playback speed

Speed is something that one expects naturally from modern computers and software. This is not always possible with lots of visual data, as in our case, but not always impossible either! Now that we are working on (and with) Viewer in earnest, we focused on speed as well. Believe it or not, but sending numbers to show in the old vehicle list turned out to be a drag. Another thing that ended up significantly faster was drawing all the lines, shapes, notes, boxes and texts on top of the video. Apart from this we changed a lot how the Viewer handles video under the hood.

We are confident that you will like how speedy the Viewer turned out, compared to how it was before!

Other

Apart from the visible things, many bugs were fixed.

The default download link is for 64-bit Windows. If you need a 32-bit version, get this one instead.

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Read COWI City Creators Blog!

In case you are interested in what COWI is up to, check out COWI city creators. It is a blog by COWI departments of Urban and Traffic Planning. The blog is about “urban planning, transport, architecture and much else that goes on in one of Northern Europe’s largest environments for urban development”.

By the way, a recent post links to publication in Danish magazine GeoForum and highlights the way COWI is thinking about drones: Droner monitorerer traffiken (Drones monitor traffic – Google translate).

Another yet more recent post says One of the world’s most advanced traffic analysis tools landed at COWI. That’s us!

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Partnership with COWI in Nordic countries

RCE Systems and COWI announce a strategic exclusive partnership in the geographic area of Nordic countries – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. The partnership focuses on application of information technologies in transportation, particularly use and further development of DataFromSky.

Countries for exclusive partnership

COWI is a leading consulting group with a 360° approach. The Danish company has a long-proven record of success, serving customers from the Nordic countries and the whole world in the field of civil engineering, including traffic analysis. The partnership enables COWI to provide more accurate and comprehensive traffic information and analysis using DataFromSky. Hence, COWI will help DataFromSky grow professionally and reach more markets.

COWI handles all commercial use of DataFromSky in the Nordic countries, and key personnel can be contacted directly:

Press release (PDF)

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