City Challenge – Safer Road intersections, from NY to Santander

City Challenge – Safer Road intersections, from New York to Santander


When it comes to road safety, cities across the globe share very similar concerns. In EU and USA about half of the road accidents occur in intersections, many of them ending up with fatalities.Furthermore, intersections have an important role in the overall traffic flow management in an urban context, thus important environmental and economic consequences. Creating smarter and safer road intersections is important for everyone, from Santander in Spain to New York in USA.

Emerging ICT technologies such as IoT, cloud/edge computing, Artificial Intelligence have great potential to help cities to build safer and more efficient intersections. However, we need real-life settings to test and validate those innovative solutions before large scale adoption.

That’s in this context that three partners from the Urban Technology Alliance (City of Santander, University of Cantabria and Kentyou) have partnered with Columbia University (USA) and Rutgers University (USA) for a cross Atlantic experimentation focusing on improving road safety and efficiency at intersections.

Federating cross-Atlantic testbeds

The city of New York, in the scope of the COSMOS testbed (led by Columbia University and Rutgers University) experiments on the use of advanced wireless technologies in urban environment. COSMOS will cover one square mile in West Harlem in New York City. One of the use cases of this deployment is to improve the safety at road intersections using video and IoT monitoring.

The SmartSantander testbed deployed around 2,000 IoT devices (mainly at the city centre), at streetlamps, facades, buses, taxis, equipped with different sensors measuring different environmental parameters, such as temperature, humidity, solar radiation, pressure, CO, NO2, O3, noise, parking spaces, luminosity, etc. Ten panels located at the main streets’ intersections have been installed in order to guide drivers towards the available parking lots so cars energy consumption as well as CO2 emissions should decrease. The testbed has supported more than 30 experiments involving more than 100 experimenters. The experiment deployment on top of SmartSantander testbed will bring a new dimension to the traffic management of the city including the optimization of vehicle flows involving roundabouts. For such purpose, at least three strategically important roundabouts will be hosting the deployment. Furthermore, the challenge of conciliating image processing with GDPR constraints will be another added value of this experimentation.

The essential requirements of the experimentation use case are:

  • Low latency: enabling rapid detection of potentially critical situation, rapid decision making and actuation.
  • Privacy protection: video images and data gathered on the streets should be treated as potentially sensitive information to preserve citizen’s privacy.
  • Efficient reaction: once a dangerous situation has been identified, the reaction should be quick and efficient, through information of road users, contact of safety services or actuation on road infrastructure (traffic lights, audio/video signs).
  • Continuous monitoring and impact measurement: the intersections should be monitored in real-time for continuous learning, improvement, and measuring the impact of the taken actions to the environment, to the economy or to the citizen satisfaction

The objective of the collaborative project initiated by UTA is to complement and extend this experiment with the technology of some of the UTA members, and to deploy a version of this use case in the city of Santander.

The federation between the two experiments will be made possible by the use of the open-source Eclipse sensiNact platform. Its modular architecture and service-oriented approach provide the necessary interoperability to ensure the integration of two testbeds. The experiment will also see innovative use of IoT technology, Edge computing paradigm and Machine Learning solutions.

The following video present an early preview of the user interface developed as part of this project to monitor road intersections and make them safer. 

Value to the city

The expected value to the city is first and foremost an increased safety and efficiency at road intersections, with:

  • Continuous monitoring of the intersections (traffic speed, number of vehicles, traffic violations, dangerous situations)
  • Reduction of the number of accidents at road intersections
  • Reduction of the severity of road accidents at intersection
  • Reduction of the safety services response time for road accidents at intersections.

Beyond this immediate value, the experiment brings longer term positive impact for the cities:

  • Increased use of privacy preserving technologies in IoT and video use cases
  • Increased collection of information on road infrastructure that can lead to optimizations and improvements, reducing:
    • Traffic and congestions
    • CO2 emissions of urban mobility

Keep tuned to get the latest updates from this pilot experience.

Contact us to know more or to get involved in a similar pilot!