Road safety: How Synthetic Data is Driving Change in Smart Cities

17 Mar 2023

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Road safety is a major concern worldwide. Every year, millions of people lose their lives or get injured in road accidents, with approximately 1.3 million fatal road traffic crashes occurring each year. Most cities are trying to promote a modal shift meaning bikes and pedestrians are on the rise, so safety requirements are as well. Smart cities have the potential to play a critical role in addressing this issue.

By harnessing the power of technology, smart cities can improve road safety by identifying potential hazards and unsafe practices, such as e-scooters being used inappropriately or cars parked in bike lanes. And at the heart of road safety improvements is data — vast amounts of it — which lends itself to one such solution that is gaining traction: the use of synthetic data.

How is synthetic data being used in road safety?

Synthetic data is being leveraged in several ways to improve road safety. One of the main applications is in the development of autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars require masses of data to learn how to navigate varying road conditions and corner cases. However, collecting real-world data can be expensive, time-consuming, and may not cover all of the required scenarios. Synthetic data can help address these challenges by generating a vast amount of data rapidly and cost-effectively.

Synthetic data is also being used to create simulations that can train and test human drivers. These simulations can create a range of scenarios involving potential hazards and test drivers’ ability to respond to them. Over time, this can work to improve response times, in turn increasing vigilance, driver performance and road safety.

Also, synthetic data is used to create digital twins of real-world environments. These digital twins can be used to test different road safety conditions, such as the impact of various road designs on accident rates. By using digital twins, road safety experts can test different environments and events without having to make real-world changes.

Benefits of using synthetic data in smart cities for road safety

The use of synthetic data in road safety has several benefits for smart cities. It can improve the accuracy of autonomous vehicles, reduce the risk of accidents caused by machine error, and provide an almost limitless source of data for training and testing. This can in turn help accelerate the development of new safety technologies. Synthetic data can reduce the cost and time required to collect real-world data, whilst simultaneously maintaining privacy and security by ensuring that sensitive data is protected.

Synthetic data is undoubtedly a powerful tool that is driving change and has the potential to transform road safety practices in smart cities. By providing a cost-effective and efficient way to generate data for training and testing, synthetic data is helping to accelerate the development of new safety technologies. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more significant improvements in the coming years.

Road safety: How Synthetic Data is Driving Change in Smart Cities was originally published in MindtechGlobal on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.