By Minah Rathore and Ali Ibrahim
According to a grim ticker on the World Health Organization website, every 23 seconds, a person dies due to a road accident somewhere around the globe. The organization predicts road traffic accidents to become the seventh leading cause of death in the World by 2030, especially for individuals between the ages of 15 and 29.
Two primary reasons have contributed to these harsh statistics.
Firstly, global migration from rural to urban areas is on the rise. As per the UN, fifty-four percent of the World’s population currently lives in urban areas. This percentage will increase to 66 percent by 2050 when another 2.5 billion people could be living in cities.
Secondly, due to the growth of car-sharing services such as Uber, Lyft, Careem, and likes, the number of people on the roads is increasing every day. Revenue from global car-sharing services is expected to grow from $1.1 billion in 2015 to $6.5 billion in 2024 when more than 23 million people are projected to use these programs.
Increased road traffic not only causes more accidents but leads to other serious issues such as environmental pollution, reduced productivity, and lack of timely access to emergency assistance.
The Need for Technological Intervention
Technology, however, can prove to be our savior for managing a seemingly unmanageable situation.
When we think of promoting road safety, images of road safety messages and safe driving instructions may pop up in our heads. Yet, technological innovations have already created a futuristic reality where self-driving automobiles pre-programmed with traffic rules, navigate their surroundings using AI, and safely deliver their occupants to desired destinations.
Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V), Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P), and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) are some of the common buzzwords used to describe the latest advancements in mobility. Utilizing a spectrum of technologies from Artificial Intelligence, Big Data to the Internet of Things, connected vehicles intelligently communicate with their surroundings and make driving an increasingly safer experience for everyone around.
Infrastructural advancements allow the stricter implementation of traffic laws and more efficient monitoring of violations. Fear of being caught acts as a most effective deterrent to errant road behavior. Technologies already deployed include automatic number plate recognition software through innovative roadside cameras and digital payments of road fines via mobile wallets.
Intelligent Traffic Management Systems (ITMS) are solutions that use a range of integrated technologies and applications for real-time wireless data exchange and seamless management of the complete transport system in a city or area.
At their most basic, ITMS solutions provide traffic administrations with smart dashboards that display continually updated traffic data, highlight congestions, and identify bottlenecks. Advanced iterations boast of self-switching traffic lights, AI that automatically re-routes traffic and monitors traffic violations on a real-time basis.
An ITMS solution recently deployed in Lahore, a city with one of the busiest road networks in Pakistan, has seen the generation of more than 60 million traffic violation records and issuance of more than 130,000 electronic tickets within one year of deployment. The number of red-light running incidents consequently decreased by 66%, and the number of traffic accidents fell by 83%. Today, road congestion in the city infamous, for it has substantially reduced.
The Key for Enablement: Public-Private Partnerships
The cornerstone for road safety in any country is a robust regulatory environment. On top of that, effective public-private collaboration is vital to resolving extant traffic management and travel challenges. Traffic authorities in Pakistan have the opportunity to partner with leading digital companies to design and deploy tailored traffic management solutions and digitalize the overall management of roads and motorways through smart initiatives across Pakistan.
Jazz, the nation’s leading mobile operator and digital company, possesses a wealth of invaluable data and unparalleled digital expertise. JazzCash has already partnered with Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) to offer M-Tag recharge solutions for all travelers on the M-2 motorway. Furthermore, it has partnered with the Islamabad Traffic Police, allowing JazzCash users to pay traffic fines on the spot using their mobile wallets.
Yet the potential for more collaborative partnerships between the government and private sector technology companies such as Jazz is limitless. GSM and internet connectivity services can connect and deploy the motorway police fleet for better highway and motorway patrolling. IoT and Cloud solutions can further grow the ITMS across the nation to other cities.
The exchange of ideas between the public and private sectors on the latest digital technologies and trends is indispensable for improving Pakistan’s road traffic and making the roads and motorways continuously safer.
Minah Rathore is a Digital Policy Analyst, and Ali Ibrahim is a technology enthusiast. Both are part of Jazz’s Corporate Communications team.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are personal and do not reflect the views of the authors’ company.