Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bring about ICTs for improving road safety in advanced world as well as Bangladesh

Bring about ICTs for improving road safety in advanced world as well as Bangladesh

Mamun Monzurul Aziz
ADE, 24th BCS (Telecommunication)
(SDE, Bangabhaban, BTCL, DHAKA)

1. ICTs for road safety
The Global status report on road safety 2013 presents information on road safety from 182 countries, which points out that the total number of road traffic deaths worldwide remains unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year (Source: Subsequently road safety is a major concern for modern world. On the other side the modern world became such modern mostly due to the blessings of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) undoubtedly. ICTs are no longer a luxury for even developing countries. It is indispensible for many aspects. This is why the theme ICTs and improving road safetyfor World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2013 is very sensible, practical and substantial.
Rreasonably ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. TourĂ© Said, ‘Road traffic safety is a global concern not only for public health and injury prevention but also to improve efficiencies in traffic management as a means of combating the effects of climate change. ITU has been leading worldwide efforts in developing state-of-the-art ICT standards for Intelligent Transport Systems and driver safety that utilize a combination of computers, communications, positioning and automation technologies, including in-car radars for collision avoidance.’
The whole world especially the advanced world are implementing presently and researching for future more and more tools and arrangements for road safety and most of those are based on ICTs. They are introducing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to improve road safety. Some changing roles of ICTs in the road traffic environment are as follows :

1.a. Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) Communications: Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) Communications for  Safety is the wireless exchange of critical safety and operational data between vehicles and roadway infrastructure, intended primarily to avoid motor vehicle crashes.

Fig 1. V2I

1.b. Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications:  Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications for Safety is the wireless exchange of data among vehicles traveling in the same vicinity which offers opportunities for significant safety improvements. 
                                                                                                              Fig 2. V2VI


1.c. A traffic enforcement Unit: This Unit ( included the red light camera, road safety camera,  road rule camera, photo radar, photo enforcement, speed camera, Gatso, safety camera, bus lane camera, Safe-T-Cam) is an automated ticketing machine. It may include a camera which may be mounted beside or over a road or installed in an enforcement vehicle to detect traffic regulation violations, including speeding, vehicles going through a red traffic light, unauthorized use of a bus lane, or for recording vehicles inside a congestion charge area.
Fig 3: Speed limit

1.d. Automatic number plate recognition: This is a mass surveillance method that uses optical character recognition on images to read vehicle registration plates.

1.e. Crash avoidance systems: The driver has a split-second to decide on how to avoid a collision. New collision avoidance systems will sense an approaching accident then apply the brakes automatically as well as warning the driver of danger. 
  Fig 4. Crash Avoidance System
 1.f. Brake support: Another system called 'brake support', will sense that the driver is trying to brake hard for some reason and will instantly boost the brake pressure to the maximum possible without skidding, so they stop in the shortest possible distance.

1.g. Pedestrian safety systems: 20% of accidents involve pedestrians. Modern cars are designed with passive safety such as crumple zones in the bonnet to reduce pedestrian injury and soft foam filled bumpers. In the future, there will be active systems under the bonnet that will sense an accident then push up the bonnet instantly to increase the clearance between engine and bonnet to minimize head injury.

1.h. Drowsiness and erratic driving systems: Falling asleep at the wheel is a major cause of accidents, especially on motorways and long stretches of road.  In the future there will be sensors within the car that detect the driver nodding off. These work by monitoring blink rate, eye movement and head position. If the signs are there, then the system will vibrate the wheel to warn the driver. Vibrating in this way is called a 'haptic' interface. A common effect of tiredness is to drift across lanes. There will be lane-sensing systems that detect the drifting car and once again either vibrate the wheel or sound an alarm. These make sophisticated use of pattern recognition and real-time image analysis that is only possible because of powerful on-board processing.

1.i. Salf-Driving Cars: Human drivers have to leave plenty of space between cars, only 5 percent of available road space is used when the road is at full capacity. Robotic self-driving systems are able to react more quickly than people can, so there doesn’t need to be as much space between cars, which would let more cars drive on the road at one time. Classifies autonomous vehicles can be divided into two categories: those that can manage their own speed but don’t communicate with other vehicles and those that communicate with other vehicles and work together as a team. Researchers concluded that autonomous cars that don’t communicate are 43 percent more efficient, while those that cooperate increase efficiency by a surprising 273 percent.

1.j. Intelligent Speed Adaptation: Intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) is bringing speed limit information inside the vehicle. It is targeted at unintentional speeders as an advisory or supportive tool and can help drivers choose the legal speed at all times. It can also be used for recidivist speed offenders to limit vehicle speeds. ISA is a GPS based speed limit advisory system. It has 3 main components computing hardware, display hardware and software.

1.k. Electronic Stability Control: The availability of potentially lifesaving electronic stability control (ESC) systems on new motor vehicles is spreading quickly. ESC uses computer-controlled individual braking of wheels to help restore a motor vehicle to the chosen cornering line in the event of loss of control by the driver. ESC is particularly helpful in improving the stability of taller vehicles such as SUVs. ESC uses technology that is an extension of the antilock braking system which is fitted to new cars. Additional sensors monitor the steering angle and rotation around the vertical axis of the vehicle. When they detect the vehicle is not travelling in the direction that is indicated by the position of the steering wheel the ESC system automatically applies the brake on one or more wheels to help the driver to maintain control over the vehicle.


1. l. Reliable Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): Reliable Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) aid drivers in a variety of traffic and environment/weather conditions. Growing traffic volumes require sensors and systems that handle difficult urban and non-urban scenarios. For such systems, the EU FP7 project ADOSE is developing and evaluating new cost-efficient sensor technology that will provide vehicles with a virtual safety belt by addressing complementary safety functions.

1.m. Road Safety and use of  Mobile phone: Driving is a complex task, requiring drivers to use and coordinate a number of skills. Any lapse in concentration increases the risk of the vehicle being involved in a crash. Driving while using a hand held mobile phone can cause both physical and mental distraction which impairs driving performance. Using a mobile phone while driving can significantly impair a driver’s reaction time, visual search patterns, ability to maintain speed and position on the road, ability to judge safe gaps in the traffic, general awareness of other road users .Research shows that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of crashing by at least four times. A mobile phone can be important in an emergency.  If you need to use your mobile phone to call for help, stop and park safely where you will not endanger other road users. Safe driving tips for using a mobile phone are-never read or send text messages while driving, use voicemail instead of answering your phone while driving, pull over safely and park to make or receive a call, plan breaks in your trip for phone calls, tell your family and friends not to call when you know you’ll be driving and never look up phone numbers while driving.


1.n. Wifi Direct technology to revolutionize road safety: The technology that makes V2V And V2I communication possible is called WiFi Direct. WiFi Direct is different from the WiFi we are familiar with. In traditional WiFi, the devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones connect to the terminal called Wireless router which acts as a channel to the internet. Even if the devices are next to each other, the data is channeled from one to another via this router. WiFi Direct removes the router from the picture enabling devices to communicate with each other DIRECTLY similar to how Bluetooth works. An interesting thing is that both devices need not be WiFi Direct enabled for this kind of communication to take place.

With WiFi direct, the connection time is reduced to even one second which makes it ideal for applications like car to pedestrian communication. However, this system that could save pedestrian deaths on the road would take five to ten years to come into place.
Fig 5: WIFI we are familiar with

1.o. Geographic Information Systems (GIS): GIS use data from communication satellites to establish the true locations of spatial objects for the sake of co-ordination and rescue operations including during periods of road crashes and other disasters. The use of GIS in road safety analysis has increased rapidly in recent years. This has proved to be effective in combination with other in-vehicle navigation systems.

1.p. Cars In The Future: There are a vast number of new technologies regarding ICTs available on new vehicles or top of the range vehicles that will become more common in future, there are also many more technologies being researched. All of which are designed to alert, assist, or take control from, the driver, and all respond to different dangers at different intervals before an accident occurs. It is important that road safety policies and strategies develop with technology. Cars are changing. The modern car is one of the most sophisticated machines in the world, and it is expected that as new technologies come along such as nano-technology and artificial intelligence, car makers will use them to make journeys even safer and more pleasant.

2. ICTs for Road safety in Bangladesh
According to official statistics, every year about 10,000 people are killed in road accidents in Bangladesh (source: shows that road accident is one of the major causes for unsolicited death in Bangladesh. While developed countries are trying to introduce more ICT’s benefits to improve road safety, unfortunately in National ICT policy 2009 of Bangladesh hardly be found any objectives or action plan strategies regarding use of ICTs in road safety. That happened also in proposed National ICT policy 2013 as use of ICTs for road safety was may not be a major concern for Bangladesh Government before.
But as a noticeable developing country in the world and having a straight forward goal to become digitally sound country within year 2021, Bangladesh Government should very much concern about implementing ICTs for improving road safety.
We know to give more drive for ICT sector the ICT Division has upgraded as Ministry of Information & Communication Technology on 04/12/2011. But as there is no specific Cedar in Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) this is related to ICT, the ICT ministry has still lack of highly technical officers. Moreover the only cedar in BCS related to telecom technology is Telecommunication cedar, which is gradually becoming cedar officer less as the recruitment in this cedar has been stopped since the year 2006 (i.e. after 25th BCS). Government should concern that more ICT related technical persons and institutions should be incorporated in full filling all ICTs policies, along with improving road safety issues using ICTS.
Moreover ITU Secretary-General’s call for action in World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2013 are to promote national policies to encourage the use of ICTs in enhancing road safety, to promote the development and use of  Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and action to eliminate unsafe technology-related distractions while driving, to promote harmonization of the 79 GHz frequency band for automotive radars and to promote the development and use of safe user interfaces in vehicles.
We hope Bangladesh Government will take necessary policies accordingly.

2.a. Some Challenges to Effective ICT Deployment in Road Safety in Bangladesh:
The reasons for the slow adoption of ICT to improve many sectors as well as road safety are numerous. The following are a few notable causes-
  •  Technology misconception- A very obvious illustration is the illusion of not drawing the distinction between computerization and automation. Computerization is the mere provision or location of individual computer systems often for independent or semi-dependent use. On the contrary, elements of automation include mass storage, centralized database, fast network access, wider coverage, remote access systems, scalability control, redundancy, access control, security policy etc. When our focus starts to shift from computerization to automation, then this challenge freezes. Only then can we begin to talk of automated road safety systems.
  • Bureaucratic bottlenecks.
  •  Inadequate funding for ICT projects.
  •  Corruption-In developing nations, the unfortunate focus on selfish enrichment through dishonest means, bribery and fraudulent practices has negative effects on the original intent of ICT projects. These effects include abandoned projects, sub-standard execution, and exposure to health hazards, loss of revenue, manpower depletion and depreciating economic backwardness.
  •  Unstable Power Supply-The state of power supply in most developing nations does not encourage the full realization of ICT initiatives. Communications systems and related ICT infrastructure need uninterruptible and adequate power to function optimally.
  •  Economic downturn-Where economic downturns are persistent, no meaningful development can be sustained.
  •  Inappropriate road arrangements.
  •  Unsuitable Infrastructures.
  •  Expensive bandwidth-As a result of the combination of several factors, internet bandwidths are most expensive. These impacts negatively on the efficiency of web-based portals in facilitating prompt emergency responses and timely dissemination of life-saving road traffic data.
  • Mass apathy and resistance to change-Most of the common technologies that are in place in advanced economies are complete aliens to the developing countries. User acceptance is usually a major challenge as people naturally tend to stick to the old methods they are used to. Besides, people also get disenchanted if previous technology attempts had failed due to corruption, economic recession or over-dependence on government bureaucracy.

2.b. Introduced Of Digital No. Plate: Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has entered into a new era as Retro-Reflective Number Plate mostly known as Vehicle digital number plate with radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag for the automobiles was introduced on 30th October 2012. This is a visible implementation of ICT in automobiles in Bangladesh. It does not reduced accident directly but this digital number plate will help identify vehicle even if it flees the scene after an accident. Also it will help detect the use of fake number plate on vehicles. Indeed somehow it has a contribution concerning road safety.
Fig 6: Honorable PM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated Digital No Plate

3. Road safety, ICTs and BTCL
ICT means a lot in present context. As per National ICT Policy 2009 of Bangladesh ICT is defined as-`All e-technologies used in creating, storing, processing, communicating and disseminating information of all kinds’.
 Fig 7: Services of BTCL

BTCL mainly deals with the business of land phone (PSTN) connections and wired internet services. But so far we discussed above, ICTs, need for improving road safety, are mainly related with wireless communication technologies. So BTCL has hardly anything to do to fulfill the call for action of ITU secretary general related road safety.
This is a clear indication that to be alive strongly in future telecom sector i.e. ICT related business; BTCL should look forward to adopt more and more latest technologies. So that BTCL can contribute various ICT related activities for various sectors of the country as well as road safety also.

4. Conclusion
Safety professionals should understand e-Safety as vehicle-based intelligent safety systems capable of using computerized devices and programs to improve road safety in terms of reducing exposure to risk, crash avoidance, injury reduction and automatic post-crash notification of collision. ICT provides a lot of tools to assist in managing road safety, but general acceptability and awareness is the big question. In developing economies like Bangladesh supportive government legislation and increased media awareness are vital in reducing ignorance and user apathy. Government and notable authorities are also encouraged to show a higher degree of interest in acquisition of ICTs, and make conscious efforts towards their operational applications in road safety.