How sensors can help city buses "see" better (and make your city safer)

While travel by bus has a much better safety record than travel by private car, accidents still occur — particularly between buses and bicyclists and pedestrians. It's not difficult to understand why they occur. City streets, sidewalks and crosswalks are becoming more crowded with both bicycles and pedestrians as city populations continue to grow.

When we consider that more and more cities concerned about traffic congestion and traffic safety are encouraging citizens to use mass transit, walking and bicycles as alternatives to driving, doesn't it make sense to do what we can to ensure the alternatives are as safe as they can be? That's precisely the focus of a collaborative effort by Council Associate Partner Intel's driver assistance systems company Mobileye and mapping technology company Esri. As you will read in the story below, it's an innovative sensor application intended to give cities more real-time data about their transportation networks and provide bus and other transit vehicle drivers a better understanding of what's going on around them. — Doug Peeples


Urban bus drivers have a tough job. They drive very large vehicles through streets increasingly crowded by other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Buses also have a wider turning radius than cars and blind spots. Bus drivers can't always see everything that is happening around them — for example a distracted pedestrian who suddenly steps off a curb directly in front of the bus.

Real-time data for cities, better visibility for transit drivers
The solution Esri and Mobileye have come up with blends the two companies' current technologies. The way it works is Mobileye's Shield+ sensor-based system is installed on buses. The traffic data they collect is fed to Esri's ArcGis platform which then relays the information on where cyclists and pedestrians are located in blind spots to Mobileye's Smart Mobility Dashboard where it can be seen.

When transportation network operators are able identify the hot spots in their city by analyzing the real-time location data, they can take corrective action to reduce the possibility of accidents. The system also sends alerts to the fleet drivers to let them know of hazards in time to avoid collisions.

For Mobileye director of business development and big data Nisso Moyal, the collaboration with Esri offers cities a way to both enhance transportation network safety and improve asset management efficiency. "By enabling direct uploading of geospatial events from Shield+ fitted to municipal buses and the like to the Mobileye Smart Mobility Dashboard, cities will be able to anticipate and help prevent the next collision, while in general managing all of their assets much more efficiently."

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.