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Microsoft, City of Bellevue Developing Tech to Predict—and Prevent—Bike Crashes

If it's successful, a public-private partnership between Microsoft and the city of Bellevue, Washington could produce Minority Report-style predicative capabilities to prevent bike crashes.
November 16, 2015, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Lisa Stiffler reports: "Microsoft engineers and City of Bellevue planners have a sci-fi inspired strategy for curbing bike and pedestrian injuries on city streets: By using video analytics, they want to predict and prevent crashes before they happen."

Yes, that statement implies some Minority Report-style clairvoyance—Bellevue senior transportation planner Franz Loewenherz invokes the 2002 Tom Cruise film directly in a direct quote: "This is like ‘Minority Report….We’re trying to get out in front of the collisions. We can take a corrective measure before someone gets hurt."

Stiffler explains how the system works: the city shares footage from its system of traffic cameras with scientists from Microsoft, who "are developing software for analyzing the footage, identifying whether a car, bike or pedestrian is using a street or sidewalk, their rate of speed and their trajectory." Then the Microsoft team writes algorithms "to look for potential collisions and near misses in order to identify dangerous intersections and roads."

The article includes a lot more about how the project is proceeding, and what it hopes to achieve by crunching the numbers on so much video footage. One noteworthy tool of the process is a WikiMap, now closed to commenting, "encouraging people to mark roads and infrastructure that they believe are dangerous." The map accrued more than 1,200 data points in its first month of operation.

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