As pedestrian traffic deaths soar, AI can improve road safety

A pedestrian crosses at West Montrose and North Ashland avenues in Uptown in February 2023. With U.S. pedestrian deaths at a 41-year high, AI and data analytics can make a difference for the better, one tech executive writes.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

U.S pedestrian deaths are at the highest level in 41 years. This highlights the urgency of innovative solutions, such as the pivotal role of artificial intelligence and data analytics in redefining pedestrian safety.

Pedestrian safety is a multifaceted issue involving the interplay of humans, vehicles and the environment. Traditional traffic management systems have predominantly focused on vehicles, often overlooking dangerous pedestrian behavior.

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AI is making significant strides in enhancing road safety. Machine learning and data analytics are shaping advanced traffic management systems that prioritize efficiency and pedestrian-centric safety.

Smart crosswalks: AI enables smart crosswalks with sensors and cameras, monitoring pedestrian traffic and adjusting traffic signals for safe crossings. They can also detect dangerous pedestrian behavior, alerting drivers to potential hazards.Intersection management: AI algorithms analyze real-time traffic data to optimize intersections efficiently.Traffic signal timing can be adjusted based on pedestrian density, ensuring safe crossing times.Pedestrian detection: AI-driven object recognition and computer vision systems detect pedestrians, even in low-light conditions. They alert drivers to pedestrians and, in some cases, trigger automatic braking in self-driving vehicles.

Data analytics complements AI, providing insights through data collection and analysis that inform decision-making and safety measures.

Crash analysis: Data analytics uncovers patterns and causes of pedestrian accidents, facilitating targeted interventions.Traffic flow modeling: Analysis of traffic flow data optimizes signal timings and road designs, ensuring smoother and safer pedestrian movements.Real-time monitoring: IoT (Internet of things) sensors and cameras offer real-time monitoring of pedestrian traffic, enabling immediate responses to safety risks.

Pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility. City planners, law enforcement, technology providers and individual drivers play vital roles in pedestrian well-being. Integrating AI and data analytics into traffic management systems is a significant step toward this shared goal.

As we develop AI-powered solutions for pedestrian safety, collaboration and data sharing among stakeholders are essential. Effective communication between traffic management systems, connected vehicles, and pedestrians is key to reducing crashes and saving lives.

Jamie Sullivan, vice president of business development, Derq

Is hate just a right-wing problem?

Dan Mihalopoulos and Tom Schuba recently reported (“Police barring Chicago cops from joining hate groups OK’d by civilian oversight panel”) the Community Commission for Public Safety had approved a new policy that would ban Chicago police officers from active participation in “hate groups.”

Specifically mentioned in their report were the far-right groups known as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Three Percenters. I found it interesting that nowhere in this report was mention made of any far-left extremist groups that have fomented not only hate but also violence, looting and arson. Such groups as antifa and certain factions of Black Lives Matter have been particularly egregious in this regard.

I am sure many of my fellow taxpayers would be interested to know if this policy also extends to membership in those groups. Or is hate only a right-wing problem?

William J. Desmond, Beverly

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