The pressure on our mobility is increasing

Publication in Trends 2020, extra edition of OV-Magazine, Verkeer in Beeld en Verkeerskunde, year 9, December 2019

ViNotion, a high end specialist in the field of automated image analysis with machine learning. Egbert Jaspers, director of ViNotion, sees that mobility receives a lot of attention. This offers opportunities and challenges.

Sustainability is of course one of the most important topics at the moment, but that affects many markets. It considers emissions, nitrogen and PFAS, electric driving, circular economy and more. We focus on mobility because it is and will continue to be one of the greatest challenges in the future, in view of the increasing urbanization. As a result, the pressure on our mobility is increasing”, says Jaspers. Consider the limited capacity of the road network. Proper organization of traffic is becoming an important part. The increasing forms of transport and their place on the public road network also offers the necessary challenges. In short; high traffic intensities from different modalities that all need a place in the outdoor space. How do you deal with this? How are you going to manage it? Who gets priority and when? How do we ensure optimum accessibility, traffic flow and safety?

The data required to make reliable, accurate and fast traffic control possible: that is what ViNotion is all about. The company uses image analysis with AI, “Artificial Intelligence” for this. “The technology has a disruptive character and the expectations are high. The possibilities are only used to improve existing solutions, but artificial intelligence also offers new possibilities. The quality of a camera with AI now exceeds the reliability of human observation, especially when it comes to a 24/7 application in many locations at the same time.”

Attention to mobility
This year, Jaspers sees a lot of attention for mobility. “We get questions from various governments about smart traffic control installations, requests for data about pedestrians and cyclists for policymakers and questions from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management about smart cameras on highways. Pedestrians and cyclists are increasingly becoming an integral part of traffic management. This is not surprising, because the available space must be shared with all residents and visitors to the city. The growing tourism in the Netherlands also contributes to the issue. That applies to large cities such as Amsterdam, but also to the smaller tourist towns such as Giethoorn.”

Connectivity between traffic and infrastructure is growing fast. The number of intelligent traffic control installations is increasing and more and more location data from smartphones is being used. Data from road users originates from the 3G or 4G network of telecom providers, from navigation systems including TomTom and from frequently used apps such as Flitsmeister and Waze. “The use of real-time data without delay must ultimately come from cars. That does require standardization and cooperation from the automotive sector, and that can take years.” As 5G is rolled out, significantly increasing data capacity and transmission speeds, the data-driven applications will take flight. As a result, real-time control of traffic systems based on real-time traffic data, for example from camera measurement systems and vehicles, will be applied on a larger scale.

Jaspers expects the trends that have been set to continue into 2020. “The digitization of traffic will continue. Think of the Internet of Things and connected vehicles.” In anticipation of this, Jaspers already notices an increase in mobility measurements for research, with the aim of controlling intelligent traffic control systems for better traffic flow, improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists and for improved design of the public space.

ViSense UrbanDynamics
“We offer ViSense UrbanDynamics, a camera-based system that can analyze all road users, both vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. The system measures their numbers, speed, origin and destination at an intersection, near-accidents, waiting times, etc.”, says Jaspers. This provides a lot of information that can be used to improve mobility. This can be done through policy, with adjustments to the infrastructure or through the dynamic control of traffic. “We always say: 
You can’t manage what you cant measure.”

“We will mainly focus on gaining more insight into pedestrians and cyclists in traffic in combination with vehicles. Our ViSense product is an ‘edge device’ with which we block access to the video sensor from outside and only send relevant information to the end user. With this ‘privacy by design’ solution we comply with the AVG legislation.”

“ViSense UrbanDynamics is used to control traffic lights, but can also be used as extra eyes for traffic controllers in a traffic control center. The system makes ‘trigger-based’ work possible, which reduces the workload. Response times to emergency services become faster due to automated detection of collisions, lost vehicle cargo and the like. Through rush-hour lane optimization (detection of congestion on one1 or more lanes), road-side matrix signs can be controlled quickly, reducing traffic congestion and offering alternative routes (traffic distribution).”

“These are a few examples of how we use our system to improve and speed up processes and enable other parties in the chain to achieve their goals. Ultimately, we therefore jointly ensure more safety, accessibility, traffic flow, insight into traffic and therefore happier road users!

Jaspers: “Traditional video analysis systems are quite sensitive to camera position, light variations and many parameters to prevent false detections. The ViSense camera uses a neural network that is trained with deep learning.” A neural network is a network that is structured just like our brain, which consists of neurons. “This means that the accuracy is high and the system is able to classify all objects, from any viewing direction. This system has been deployed at many locations, making it a mature product.

”In the coming period, ViNotion will identify the needs of their customers. Think of links to other systems, aspects of the user interface or the recognition of specific vehicle classes.

Jaspers notices that the Netherlands is a leader: “The Netherlands is ahead of the development of smart traffic management and new mobility concepts. There are opportunities to develop attractive export propositions in which various companies have a share. That is why we are happy to collaborate with our partners.”

text: Marcel Slofstra