The City of Boston is making its streets smart with technology – such as cameras and sensors – to learn how people interact on, and with, Boston’s streets. The Vision Zero initiative, which is being implemented in multiple cities across the country – aims to put an end to serious motor vehicle crashes. Through the data collected via camera and sensor technology, Boston can re-imagine its streets, improving design and overall safety.
Working with Verizon, the City of Boston is gathering data at city intersections, including the one at Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. This data will be used to determine what, if any, changes need to be made. To gather necessary data, this pilot program is using video cameras, LED lights, and sensors placed under the road. Possible changes may include:
- increased enforcement of traffic rules,
- better public education about traffic rules,
- improved sidewalks, streets, and signage.
Once acquired, the data is uploaded into a web-based platform for analysis and reporting. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
What Type of Data is Being Gathered?
- How different types of vehicles – including bicycles – move during green, yellow, and red traffic signals
- Whether vehicles tend to remain in the intersection for an extended period of time
- Where pedestrians are using crosswalks
- How pedestrians respond to “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” traffic signals
- The frequency with which motor vehicles and cyclists yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
- Use of bike lanes by cyclists
- Situations that result in cyclists riding outside those lanes
What About Privacy?
There has been some concern about privacy as records of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians are collected, and video data is analyzed. According to the City of Boston, the data is anonymous. No specific personal information is attached to any records. Additionally, the City will not have access to any video footage. Rather, Verizon – who owns the data – provides basic information to the City, such as the number of pedestrians on a given day. Neither Verizon nor the City will use biometric software to read license plates or perform facial recognition analysis. Further, the video will not track specific individuals or issue traffic tickets.
Smart Streets, Smart City
Vision Zero’s “Smart Streets” are just one part of the overall “Smart City” technology, with which the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is experimenting. Other smart city technology includes self-driving vehicles and smart parking sensors, “Internet of all Things” devices, and interactive public art. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
Considering that there are more than five million car accidents annually, and about 80 people die in car accidents every day, Boston’s initiative to reduce serious and fatal accidents to zero is both encouraging and challenging. As technology continues to advance, however, the rate of fatal accidents is likely to drop. This is good news for all. In the meantime, always wear your seat belt, don’t speed, don’t text and drive, and never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Continue reading