5 Ways Road Sign Data Makes Cities Safer

Authored by Lisa Joy Rosner | CMO

When I’m driving, I’m always on the lookout for unexpected ‘stop’, ‘yield’ or ‘give way’ signs, one-way streets, and posted speed limits. After all, the road signs around us are our guides to moving swiftly and safely. But road signs are valuable for companies and service providers that deal with trucks, cars and consumers, as well.

Road signs direct driver and traffic behaviour. By consuming this data, smart city organizations, mapping applications or fleet management companies can map, monitor and manage traffic. Then, they can use it for both consumers’ needs and for their own. The best example is creating a safer traffic environment for drivers and residents.

Here are five ways connected car data can be used for creating safer cities, through mapping and traffic management.

1. Making Mapping Apps Complete

Consumers rely on mapping apps as a guide for the best way to get from point A to B, and they also consume additional features like alerts about police cars on the sidelines, or media advertisements. Since drivers can’t drive on the road without road signs, road sign data is an essential part of mapping data, and no mapping service is complete without it.

All-inclusive mapping services and apps spur safer driving, because they become a reliable source for drivers. When drivers know they can count on their mapping app one hundred percent, they don’t have to divide their attention between the map and what is actually on the road. Instead, they can focus solely on driving safely. No doubt, extensive mapping apps will become the map and perhaps the app of choice for drivers.

2. Real-time Traffic Management

Traffic fluctuates and is not always predictable, so traffic management needs to be flexible. Dynamic road signs are one way to do this. But if drivers aren’t aware that road signs have changed, they might get into accidents, putting themselves and those around them in danger.

Photo by Laith Abdulkareem on Unsplash

Real-time road sign data that is pushed to the driver through apps and services is a good solution for communicating these changes. These services can alert the driver about road sign changes – for example changes in the speed limit, construction sites, or a new temporary stop sign at a park entrance where a children’s field day is taking place. By getting information and insights in real-time, drivers will be safer, and this benefits everyone on the roads. In addition, the ability to alert drivers gives municipalities and companies the freedom to manage traffic, according to municipal needs.

3. Bad Vision? No Problem

Even the most cautious driver will have a hard time spotting road signs through sleet, snow or a fallen down tree. Road sign data is a good substitute. Services and apps that utilize road sign data can show drivers road signs without the drivers having to see them with their own eyes. This ensures road safety, for drivers, their passengers and pedestrians.

Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash

4. Danger Alerts

Some places are prone to accidents, like long and winding roads in mountain ranges or   complicated and confusing intersections. Usually, these predicaments have road signs along the way, as a means for guiding drivers among these treacherous paths.

Photo by Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

Alerting drivers about these road signs by services and apps that analyze road sign data, will help them drive safer and decrease the number of accidents in these areas. Danger alerts can also include temporary dangers, like slippery roads or ice during bad weather, slowdowns in the area of a parade or construction building, or speed limit changes.

5. The Missing Piece for Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are the future, and a not so distant one at that. But autonomous vehicles are not just the newest way to get around; rather, they’re a huge change in our transportation paradigm. As such, they require a complete shift in the way we think, and it’s no wonder ‘safety’ comes up as one of the first questions when discussing these vehicles.

To operate safely, autonomous vehicles need continuous, up-to-date and accurate information about the roads, and signage is an essential part of that information. Autonomous vehicles will have to react to road signs just like a human driver would. Therefore, they need to be able to continuously consume real-time road signs around them. This can be done by getting continuous road sign data.

Road sign data can also be used for the research and development of autonomous cars. ‘Learning’ which types of areas have which types of road signs, for example, can help create more accurate and safe driving.

Road Sign Data on the Otonomo Platform

We’re pleased to announce that the Otonomo Platform now offers road sign data from the ADAS systems of more than 500,000 passenger vehicles in the 33 countries. This data is cleansed, reshaped and normalized, and it’s anonymized through the Otonomo Anonymization Engine.

In fact, the Otonomo platform ingests an average of 2,462,276 road sign events daily. The majority of collected road sign events originates from Germany (21%), US (20%) and UK (11%).

A sample coverage map of road signs in Germany & Benelux is depicted below.

You can also use our road sign data in the service you’re offering.
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