Monday, May 27, 2013

ICT in Road Safety : Prospects, Challenges to Effective ICT Development in Road Safety & Rescue Operations in Bangladesh


 ICT in Road Safety  :  Prospects, Challenges to Effective ICT Development in Road Safety & Rescue Operations in Bangladesh

Md. Shahinur Rahman
Divisional Engineer, BTCL,Khilgaon, Dhaka

 



Bangladesh is a country in South Asia with 150 million inhabitants. It has total length of road under the Roads and Highways Department around 7699.94 Km (Wikipedia,2011). It is estimated that mechanized road transport carry about 70% of the country’s total passenger and cargo volume. Its contribution of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is 6.95%. According to police, road accidents claims 4000 lives and injure 5000 per year. But according to WHO (2009), the actual fatalities could will be 20038 per year. About 70% road accidents fatalities occur in rural area and 50% of them occurred on national and regional highways [1].  Bangladesh has one of the highest fatality rate in road accidents – higher than 85 deaths per ten thousand registered motor vehicles every year. Where as, in developed countries the number of motorized vehicles is many times more, the rate is below 5.
There has been an alarming rise in road accidents, significantly highway accidents, in Bangladesh over the past few years.

 At least 46 people were killed and more than 200 injured in 31 road accidents across the country in the last four days including the three-day Eid holiday --- The Daily Star, November 10th 2011.

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.
Information and telecommunication systems are enabling ‘intelligent’ vehicles to interact with other vehicles and also the road environment, thereby making the road safer as a means of mobility.
ICT Defined
Generally, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is the fusion of Telecommunications, Electronics and Computer Information Systems used to retrieve, analyze, store, process, transmit, secure and intelligently interpret digital data either in storage or in transit. This fusion has so many segments including digital storage, Database Management Systems (DBMS), networking, data security, fibre optics transmission, VSAT connectivity, WiMAX networks, mobile electronics, plasma sensitivity, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), disaster recovery, software engineering and most importantly the internet and its web component.
Road Safety Defined
Road safety is the combination of all measures, activities, operations, awareness and regulatory enforcements aimed at the protection of lives and properties during all phases of road mobility including periods of distress. Road safety comprises of all guidelines, strategies and implementations focused on making road transportation effective, smooth and safe for the preservation of lives, property and services.

Vulnerable Road Users
While the reduction of road fatalities is the target of road safety, special attention is usually focused on the following road users either because of their peculiar disadvantaged means of road mobility, their emotional status or their conditions.

1.   Learner drivers
2.   Pedestrians
3.   Athletes
4.   Disabled and physically challenged
5.   Cyclists
6.   Demonstrators
7.   Rally makers
8. Drive under influence of alcohol, drugs etc;
9. Un-utilization of helmets, seat belts etc;
10. To walk on the roads instead of using the   footpath;
11. To cross the road without using the foot over bridge;
12. Illegal competition to overtake the vehicle.
§         Over - speeding
§         Over - Loading

Road Safety Technology
Road safety technology is the application of Technology to facilitate safe mobility, promote easier dissemination of road traffic information, ensure comfortable manipulation of road machineries, improve the efficiency of road traffic signs/alerts, promote mass awareness of safety consciousness, facilitate more effective rescue operations and improve the monitoring of the changing conditions of roads and machineries. ICT in road safety technologies is usually applied through the collation, storage, analysis and processing of vital electronic data including: weather readings, accident location co-ordinates, precise remote traffic light adjustment, warning thresholds, speed chart, driver alertness, and other data attributes.
A VANET (Vehicular Ad-Hoc Networks) is a technology that uses moving cars as nodes in a network to create a mobile network. VANET turns every participating car into a wireless router or node, allowing cars approximately 100 to 300 meters of each other to connect and in turn create a network with a wide range. As cars fall out of the signal range and drop out of the network, other cars can join in connecting vehicles to one another so that a mobile Internet is created which can be operated without the need for a fixed infrastructure. Such a topology is suitable for rapid deployment of a wireless network i.e. VANET [2].



Broadcasting refers to a method of transferring a message to all recipients simultaneously. It is a method where a single node transfers message and all other nodes receive it within range. When a broadcast occurs, the broadcasting node can’t receive any data unless it stops broadcasting.

Wireless Ad-Hoc networks have special characteristics related to node mobility, node self-configuration and the lack of centralized access points (AP’s) [3]. Each car can behave as OBU (On Board Unit) that is as node and we can also have RSU. Thus the number of vehicles is never zero on highway in Bangladesh. 

It is very important for a populated country like Bangladesh because accidents are very much common here and many people dies. Thus a lot of lives can be saved through proper utilization of VANET features and a lot of money also.

Areas of Application of ICT in Road Safety
Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) utilize ICTs to manage driving, traffic, transportation and all factors that are important in one way or the other to transport safety, design and education. ITS systems could be in-vehicle systems, or external infrastructure support. Interfacing road infrastructure hardware with in-vehicle warning and control systems is another road safety groundbreaking technology.
1. Point to point communications (PPC): PPC enables Road safety officials to use high-speed radio systems to communicate between multiple locations and for vehicle-to-vehicle driver communications.

2. Wireless networks (Wifi and WiMAX): Hand-held, portable electronic devices leverage existing cellular and private wireless networks to provide a one-touch access to traffic data, weather condition reports, transport news, etc. The efficiency of the systems builds on the currency of their data which updates in real-time and fully accessible from web applications (webapps) within contemporary smartphones, blackberries, android, iPad and other handheld electronic devices. Widely-used wireless standards include the Wireless Fidelity (Wifi) and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX).

3. Web-based road safety portals:
Road safety web portals enable the continuous publication of interactive resources which can equip stakeholders with vital statistics concerning the true nature of traffic conditions, accident spots, nearby health institutions, and real-time distress calls. For effective road safety operations, the use of internet technologies provides an online data interactivity for the sharing of vital statistics among stakeholders in absolute real-time.
4. Automated Emergency Call System (eCall):
In alliance with reputable mobile network providers, the eCall is a communication system that designates a unique telephone number (often toll-free) exclusively for reporting emergencies and distress conditions. eCall can also be integrated into web-based road safety portals to give it wider access beyond the bounds of the cellular network’s coverage area.
5. IP-based CCTV and surveillance cameras:
Traffic Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) systems integrated together with surveillance cameras are video-based vehicle/motion detection systems used for remote surveillance of traffic situations to track offenders, to build usable traffic data and to provide an archive for future road transport enhancements.
6. Speed monitors:
Strategically positioned along highways, speed sensors are two-way electronic communication devices that estimate the relative speed of road vehicles, and compares it with the stipulated speed limits. In advanced implementations, any speed over-shoot beyond the stated limit triggers a zoom-in from the nearest camera and the vehicle is instantly traced while video capture/ recording is automatically activated. A signal is also instantaneously relayed to a nearby patrol team and such a vehicle can be followed and the driver quickly apprehended.
7. Car navigation systems (Driver support systems):
These are a range of intelligent systems that warn the driver based on information received from a central database or other environmental interpretations of what may appear to be adverse condition that may lead to a crisis if no precautionary measures are taken. Such warnings may include bad weather, obstructed lanes, speed limits, slippery lane, etc.
8. Sensing technologies and harmonic RADAR systems
9. Number plate recognition technology : BRTA has introduced this technology very recently in our country.
Challenges to Effective ICT Deployment in Road Safety and Rescue Operations:
The reasons for the slow adoption of ICT to improve road safety are numerous. The following are a few notable causes.
1. Technology misconception
2. Bureaucratic bottlenecks
3. Inadequate funding for ICT projects
4. Corruption
5. Unstable Power Supply
6. Economic downturn
7. Expensive bandwidth
8. Mass apathy and resistance to change
Benefits of the Application of ICTs in Road Safety
The obvious challenges of adoption of ICTs in road safety are not sufficient to disregard their immeasurable benefits captured as follows below.
1. Reduction in road mortality and casualties.
2. Improved post-accident response healthcare and support.
3. Creation of job helps to reduce the unemployment rate.
4. Economic growth
5. Promotion of gradual industrialization.
6. Improvement in foreign investors’ interest.
7. Reduction in travel time, pollution, traffic congestion and road accidents.
8. Assists drivers to avoid accidents.
9. They are used to generate vital statistics in road usage and electronic traffic management which can in turn be used to improve performance and to plan for future enhancements.
Protecting Road Safety Electronic Data
It is not just enough amassing huge data for road safety management, every electronic data, including sensitive road safety data is useless if it is not well protected. This aspect of data protection, known as cyber security, is aimed at ensuring that electronic data is kept safe from corruption and undue modification and that access to it is suitably controlled. Several cyber security objectives to protect data exist but the three listed below are the most important of all. These are generally used as standard benchmark to qualify the level of electronic data security and information assurance. Others information protective measures, safeguards and mechanisms derive from them.
1. Data Integrity:
This is the protection of information from unauthorized or inadvertent modification. It is an assurance that the information cannot be altered either in storage or in transit between sender and intended receiver without the alteration being detected and reversed.
 2. Data Confidentiality:
This is the limiting of access to information to authorized persons only. Data confidentiality in the management of road safety electronic data is used to keep the content of information from all but those authorized to have, see, or use them.
 3. Data Availability:
Road safety electronic data/resources should be readily available to those who need them, and when they need them. The information should be easily accessible without hindrance by all parties that have the authority to view, edit, transfer, or otherwise use it to enhance road safety operations and ensure safety of lives and properties.
Conclusion and Recommendations
ICTs seek to find ways of dealing with each of the factors that lead to road accidents including, but not limited to: alcohol, novice drivers, older drivers, careless drivers, bad roads, reckless driving, faulty vehicles, poor visibility, fatigue and drug influence.
Some simple recommendations to avoid road accidents are :
1.       To avoid Reckless driving, Over- speeding and Over- Loading;
2.       Defective vehicles can not be derived;
3.       Provide adequate training to drivers and pedestrians;
4.       Roads should be properly constructed & maintained;
5.       Strong implementation of Traffic rules & regulations;
6.       Pedestrians have to use the footpath instead of walking on the road;
7.       Safe driving without having alcohol, drugs etc. must be ensured;
8.       Use foot over bridge or zebra crossing while passing the road;.
9.       Utilize helmets, seat belts, etc.;
10.   100% concentration is required while driving the Vehicle;

Besides these, huge programs should be adopted regarding public awareness of road safety by different NGO’s and other organizations by the side of the Govt. Fortunately, BRTA has taken some road safety instructions awareness program for public, drivers, passengers, pedestrians by publishing in the daily News papers periodically.  
Safety professionals should understand eSafety 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.
In many developing economies including Bangladesh, various factors ranging from corruption to policy non-sustainability have been blamed for the backwardness and slow adoption of ICTs in general, and its application to road safety, in particular. The good news however is that this backwardness shall not be for too long, as advanced Technologies are globally being applied to many transportation problems. ICTs’ adoption in optimizing road safety and rescue operations are helping to achieve this ambition of a drastic reduction in road deaths.
The traffic police department has a crucial role to play in identifying and holding accountable reckless driving, speeding and unstable or overloaded vehicles. The maintenance, repair and expansion of roads coupled with setting up dividers on national highways, cautioning signals for hazardous locations, disseminating information on driving and road safety to masses through media and exemplary punishment for violating traffic laws are some of the main areas that need to be worked on rigorously by the government.
As citizens, we too have a role to play in ensuring road safety. While travelling in public transports, passengers should protest and stop speeding and reckless driving by bus and taxi drivers. Owners of motor vehicles should ensure that employed drivers have genuine licenses, are properly trained and drive responsibly. Road safety education to pedestrians, especially children, within the communities by community leaders is also a good way to promote road safety.
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 application in road safety if “Digital Bangladesh Vision-2021” is to be realized.



 


References/Sources :- Information were Collected from the following websites, Journals & newspapers.

1. Prof. Dr. Mazharul Hoque, “Improving Highway Safety in Bangladesh: Road Improvement and the Potential Application of iRAP”, Seminar organized by the department of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka, October 15, 2010.
2. K. Pahlavan and P. Krishnamurthy, “Principles of Wireless Networks”, Prentice Hall PTR Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA, 2001.
3. Mostafa M. I. Taha, “Broadcasting Protocols in Vehicular Ad-Hoc Networks (VANETs)”, Thesis of Master of Science under the department of Electrical Engineering of Assiut University, Egypt, 2008.
4. Website: 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine- to-Machine
6.The Statistical Information is collected from BRTC Website(http://www.brtc.gov.bd)
8. The Daily Star, dated, Nov-10, 2011.
9. BRTA Annual Report-2008
10. Images are taken form http://www.google.com.bd/# hl=bn&sclient=psy-ab&q=Images+of+VANET

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