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Making Highways Safer and Smarter: How can Cameras and Analytics help

Oncam Abhishek

Mr. Abhishek Kumar, Regional Director, Oncam

Accidents and crashes on our highways have always been a prime concern for our country. It is because of the sheer number of cases that take place in India every day. As a matter of fact, our nation ranks amongst the top countries having road accidents across the globe. Most of these accidents are life-threatening and lead to the loss of national productivity. In 2019, over 4.75 lakh road accidents took place in India that resulted in 1.54 lakh fatalities as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). So, it would be an understatement to say that the road safety
situation is grim in our country.

Now, every accident also has its own economic implication both on the macroscopic and microscopic levels. For people belonging to the low-income group, such implications are usually far-reaching as the deceased could be the sole breadwinner of the entire family. The need of the hour is to make timely and impactful decisions that address the prevailing safety concerns.

Leveraging technology, we have to make our road infrastructure smarter and effective. Perhaps, Artificial Intelligence can help us make all the difference in this context.

The Road to Safety: Making our Highways Smarter

Highways are the building block of any nation. They not only serve as the connecting links between geographical regions but are also integral to the economic activity with transportation of goods and services. In other words, they are what essentially tie our cities, towns, and villages while also ensuring that they ably perform their day-to-day activities. At present, India is treading on a path of across-the-board transformations in infrastructure. The development is taking place with ambitious initiatives such as the Bharatmala project, industrial corridors, and logistics parks alongside others.

It is high time for us to place AI and automation at the heart of our highway advancements.

We can revamp our highways and improve their capabilities with advanced AI-based surveillance solutions. But where to start? A good place to do so would be with the deployment of state-of-the-art surveillance solutions that automate various processes with intense precision. With the New Motor Vehicle Act 2019, the enforcement of traffic regulations is more effective than it was before. We can make them more robust with analytics for across-the-board operations.

For instance, AI-driven cameras can detect several challenging traffic conditions that arise due to the increased number of vehicles on road. It can pave the way for projections around potential traffic blockages and other instances. Adequate measures can be taken pre-emptively to prevent or manage the arising situation. In an integrated system, we can even issue updates to people that prompt them to adopt an alternate route. Advanced video monitoring systems can also bring superior accuracy while detecting traffic violations and locate vehicles entering restricted zones.

Overall, we can make the enforcement of traffic rules more robust.   
Advanced surveillance cameras have the capability to match unusual situations with their historic data and arrive at an optimal solution while also issuing warnings to relevant stakeholders. Today, the development of diversion signals to prevent traffic jams at the crash site is also underway. By leveraging such solutions, we can raise the safety standards and make the mobility of vehicles very seamless.

By 2022, our nation plans to make its roads toll-booth-free to prevent congestions at toll plazas.
RFID sensors along with High-speed ANPR cameras can serve the purpose. Sophisticated solutions can also be developed to make sure that people only pay for the toll road used and not the entire toll amount. In cases of violations, on-ground task forces and relevant authorities can easily detect and intercept a blacklisted vehicle, thereby superior driving compliance.

Another area where Smart AI-based solutions can make a tangible difference is the planning and implementation of projects. Relevant projections can be made on the basis of historic traffic patterns, wherein we can ensure data-driven decision-making and optimal resource utilization for future projects. As we work towards the Smart Cities Mission, smart traffic management and smart traffic signals can also be a part of this burgeoning infrastructure.

In conclusion, the AI- and ML-driven approach comes with a multitude of advantages, all of which can be realized by us by making the relevant deployments. This way, we can change the current paradigm and add to the productivity of our traffic professionals and the nation at large.

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