Field Service Virtual Event

September 30 - October 02, 2020


10:30am - 6pm ET

Ford Is Using Data to Improve Safety and Service in the City of Tomorrow

Brought to you by WBR Insights

The population is expanding rapidly—so rapidly that the number of people walking this planet is predicted to hit 8 billion by 2030. This means new challenges for city infrastructure development and mobility.

As the global population grows, the reliance on cities will become ever more important. By 2050—a mere 30 years away—it's thought that approximately 70% of people around the world will live in cities—a figure already being met and exceeded in many developed countries. This increasing reliance on urban environments will bring with it many challenges, from sewerage and healthcare to infrastructure and energy, but at the core of almost everything will be transport and mobility.

These needs require fresh thinking from innovators in the transportation industry. Naturally, given the era in which we live, digital technology is going to play a significant role in this future, and Ford already has some great ideas.

Ford Mobility

In partnership with Wired Consulting, Ford Mobility has recently commissioned a report into the needs of the city of the future and has put forward suggestions on how these challenges might be solved. The report was composed after Ford convened a series of City of Tomorrow Symposiums, bringing together urban planners, transport experts, local politicians, technology leaders, and academics to explore the challenges facing urban mobility over the coming years.

"At the core of this urban challenge is mobility," reads the report. "People must move for work and for leisure, and to access many of the services on which they depend. At the same time, the goods that they need or desire must be manufactured and brought to convenient locations, whether retail outlets or the consumer's front door. And all of this movement—this shifting labyrinth of goods, services and people—must compete for a finite share of the urban footprint, along with buildings, utility networks, and the residents themselves."

The report goes on to list four factors that must be considered if the city of tomorrow is going to get mobility right - accessibility, efficiency, planning, and safety. Each of these facets of urban mobility is essential, and we could easily write a full-length article on them.

However, safety is the area in which Ford has already been making inroads. The automaker has connections to the world of field service provision and, specifically, predictive maintenance.

Safety and Service

To get started on improving the safety of our city streets, Ford has recently completed a trial of using connected vehicles to assess on-site observations of road-traffic collisions and other related incidents.

The study was carried out over two years and aims to inform city planning and maintenance by using data and advanced analytics to make relatively simple improvements to areas of concern around roads and junctions. Indicators such as sharp braking or hazard light usage, can—when correlated with historical accident data—be used to identify which stretches of road were most likely to experience a road safety incident in the future.

With connected vehicles able to gather this information and feed it back to vehicle manufacturers, they can gain a holistic view of accident or near-miss data and relay it to the appropriate council departments.

"Using data to identify where safety incidents are most likely to occur is one thing—proving the concept works is another," said Project Lead for City Insights at Ford Mobility Europe, Jon Scott. "We have now taken the innovative predictive road safety concept we introduced last year one step further by engaging with civil engineering experts to better understand the reasons behind safety incidents at these locations and make suggestions on how to address them."

UK road safety and traffic management brand Traffic Watch UK has been working with Ford to capture and analyze data from eight of the country's most notorious safety hotspots.

A combination of connected vehicle technology and infrastructure such as traffic cameras enabled Ford to identify driver behaviors and road conditions, including traffic signal jumping by drivers and cyclists, illegible road signs due to overgrown trees or incorrect orientation, poor road surface conditions, and narrow lanes creating conflict between road users—which could be contributing to an increase in safety incidents at those locations.

"It is probably no coincidence that where Ford's analysis identified harsh braking and steering, we also found evidence of traffic light offences and obscured road signs," said Managing Director of Traffic Watch UK, Amanda Wickens. "Without a doubt, there is a real opportunity for intelligent connected technology and vehicle data analysis to help reduce the occurrence of road incidents in the future."

Final Thoughts

Using predictive analytics to make our roads a safer place to travel is an important step on the path to the city of tomorrow. Thanks to Ford already innovating in this space, the future is looking bright for our urban environments.

Advanced analytics is sure to be a hot topic at Field Service Palm Springs 2020, taking place in April at the JW Marriott Palm Desert Resort & Spa, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.