News

It’s time to learn!

Seminar invitation headings DataFromSky technology has added new possibilities to transport and road fields. It highlights a great need of people working in these fields – to be equipped with adequate tools for conducting surveys and collecting data. The purposes for which such data is collected places severe requirements on precision and reliability. Choosing the right methods and devices used for traffic monitoring and vehicle counting is a question of selecting the best ones for a given environment.

All of this will be part of discussion in the seminary with title “Methods and techniques for the monitoring and management of road traffic” presented by Eng. Andrea Marella (Trafficlab) and Eng. Erik Sferco (Trieste University), that will take place on Monday, 16th May at the Trieste University.

Program for the whole day is available in the following link, with an explanation on how to participate for those interested.

pdf Locandina-DataFromSky.pdf

A few weeks ago, our Italian partner Eng. Morini from society TAU participated in a meeting day with theme “Advanced applications in road planning: survey and analysis of the traffic and the video images produced by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and “Big data” dataset obtained from cellular networks”, where he spoke about “advanced systems for survey and analysis of traffic and mobility in urban and suburban areas by processing of video images recorded thanks to flight and aerial platforms”. More information about the event is available at the following link (Italian only):

pdf 1697.pdf

The rising interest shown by universities and official engineering associations demonstrates the growing confidence in DataFromSky and understanding what it is. We hope that these meetings could let traffic technicians know how powerful and innovative tool we are working on.

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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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