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Predictive video traffic data reducing Calgary road conflicts

Calgary intersection locations where video-based, AI-analyzed data was used both reduced speeds and eliminated high-risk conflicts.

Now, there’s $200,000 available for these kinds of projects through a Winnipeg-based start-up called MicroTraffic and Aviva Canada.

MicroTraffic uses an artificial intelligence tool through existing city traffic cameras, detecting and tracing both the path and speed of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists to see near misses in the area.

The data collected helps cities make decisions on signalling, signage or reconfiguration of intersections.

Data collection locations

According to the City of Calgary, they’ve been using video-based data collection since 2017. They’ve worked with MicroTraffic in the past. There are five locations in Calgary where the video-based conflict data has been collected.

  • 1 Avenue and 9 Street NE in Bridgeland to evaluate the early impacts of the community driven traffic calming initiative.
  • 17 Avenue and 1 Street SW where they implemented a Leading Pedestrian Interval to address a recurring pedestrian collision issue.
  • 12 Avenue and 36 Street NE along the LRT line where new traffic signal controllers were installed with the aim of improving pedestrian accommodation.
  • 26 Avenue and 77 Street SW to better understand the benefits of installing a marked and signed pedestrian crosswalk.
  • Centre Street S and 3 Avenue to evaluate signal phasing changes aimed at improving pedestrian safety.

When the data was collected and solutions applied, the City of Calgary saw conflicts reduced to zero in two locations.

At 17 Avenue and 1 Street SW, conflicts went from two to zero. Southbound, left-turning vehicles travelling more than 35 km/h were reduced from 11 per cent to three per cent.

At 36 Street and 12 Avenue NE, high-risk conflicts went from 10 to 0. There was also a small vehicle speed reduction.

The change at 1 Avenue and 9 Street NE showed no high risk conflicts, but average speed in the area dropped by seven kilometers per hour westbound and five kilometres per hour eastbound.

“We found the video analytics to be a useful tool in assessing the changes in vehicle speed, higher severity conflicts, and road user behavior,” read a statement from the city.

The city said they would be reviewing eligibility for the MicroTraffic grant program.

Intervention is key

The grant will be provided to five Canadian cities with populations over 100,000. It’s a cost sharing model with cities expected to pay 25 per cent, up to a maximum of $12,500.

“By giving traffic engineers proactive information based on serious near-misses, we can tell them where and how the next fatalities are likely to happen so they can intervene,” said Craig Milligan, CEO and co-founder of MicroTraffic.

“This really is a game changer for cities so we’re encouraging all municipalities and provincial road authority departments to apply so we can work with them to make their local roads safer.”

The groups plan to run their video analysis on a total of 10 intersections in five Canadian cities. The cost to run the analysis is $5,000 per intersection for a total of $50,000 per city. Each city is expected to pick up $12,500 of that cost.

Cities will receive high-level analysis of the information.