Video AI to beat the Top 5 urban mobility concerns worldwide


Solutions to 5 major urban mobility challenges worldwide: driven by Intelligent Video Analytics.

More than 50% of the world’s population today lives in urban areas. By 2045, the urban population is expected to increase 1.5 times to 6 billion. City leaders around the globe know they must act quickly to anticipate this growth to provide the basic services, infrastructure, and housing that their expanding populations will need. The trend toward urbanization is caused by the growing economic and political importance of cities and urbanized areas; the aging of the EU population; technological advances; new business models; and a change in the attitudes and preferences of transport users and citizens in general. all of which have ramifications for urban mobility.

Rising urbanization is impacting complex mobility landscapes across the globe.

Daily, a constantly expanding commuting population must contend with ineffective transportation networks and clogged highways. The increasing number of road users, poor coordination of traffic lights, and unforeseen events such as traffic accidents, adverse weather conditions, building construction and roadwork, and deteriorating road infrastructure are the most prevalent causes of increasing congestion in urban areas around the world.

Commuters are not the only ones hit by urban mobility complications. Local businesses have to deal with increasing traffic congestion and overcrowded urban centers too. Sales are affected when it takes customers longer to get to them. Customers may even decide not to visit a store at all as they are unlikely to find parking nearby. All operations, including supply, staff planning, and recruitment, are exposed to urban mobility challenges. This has economic implications but also affects employee satisfaction, customer experience, and the image of companies.

Having cars, delivery vehicles, and trucks play such a large role in the mobility of large cities creates another serious side effect in the form of pollution. To counter it, we need to minimize fuel consumption with efficient transport systems that reduce emissions. We can provide and promote clean public transport and attractive cycling infrastructure for those who live close enough to their workplace. And we can cut CO2 emissions by using smarter ways to control traffic flow on busy roads. For example, we could use green waves and give trucks and cyclists the right of way at intersections.

While pedestrian safety and well-being are improving the quality of life in cities, these advances are held back by the aggravating impact of crowding. The recent COVID-19 outbreak has again demonstrated our need for intelligent video analytics to address modern-day urban issues. Several places with a lot of people have added AI video analytics to their surveillance systems to keep an eye on social distance. The extensive privacy-proof data from live surveillance and intelligent video analytics provided in-depth insights and complete situational awareness into complex situations that were needed. Generic data proved valuable for advice and decision-making on measures for social distancing. Real-time data that was very accurate was useful for communicating with the public through dashboards in public places.

Quality of life tops the agendas of many cities and densely populated urban regions. 

Local governments, in their need to deal with urban mobility concerns and increasing environmental and safety pressures, are more and more looking at artificially intelligent video technology to leverage in-depth situational data and reliable predictions. Today we have the technology at hand to monitor individuals, groups, and any traffic modality 24/7. With full respect for the privacy of the public, through decision support systems, smart cameras, and AI Video Analytics resources, we can gain complete situational awareness of any complex scenario to:

  • Proactively manage and intervene in traffic flow, accessibility, crowding, and safety.
  • Reduce emissions and the environmental impact of growing urbanization for citizens, commuters, and visitors.
  • Identify potential threats in and to crowds and traffic from statistics, enabling preventive actions.
  • Monitor and anticipate crowd and traffic patterns in real-time and for analysis based on historical data.
  • And even detect abnormal behavior of people and traffic.

There are a lot of challenges that come with modern urban mobility. This white paper will address the top 5 major challenges and use ViNotion’s groundbreaking Intelligent Video Analytics technology and smart sensors to help tackle them.

The Top 5 Major Urban Mobility Challenges Worldwide

  1. Providing first-mile and last-mile service for transit users to connect underserved communities to jobs.
  2. Facilitating the movement of goods into and within a city.
  3. Optimizing traffic flow on congested freeways and arterial roads.
  4. Limiting the impacts of climate change and reducing carbon emissions.
  5. Improving safety and livability for residents, commuters, and visitors.

Smart cities leverage in-depth data from Intelligent Video Analytics to improve the urban mobility landscape.

Even though smart cities are still in their infancy, smart mobility innovations are already reducing traffic congestion and improving transportation conditions for people and goods in urban areas all around the globe. To control traffic flow, accessibility, crowds, environmental impact, and safety, Smart Cities authorities need highly accurate, versatile data. Both real-time and historical data lead to insights and predictions obtained through intelligent video analysis, helping them to intervene, manage, and plan more effectively to master current urban crowding and traffic challenges. With more than 15 years of experience working with European, national, city, and traffic authorities, Vinotion has created state-of-the-art artificially intelligent video analytics solutions based on machine learning and Deep Learning to collect, process, analyze, and deliver the most versatile data about urban crowds and traffic—100% privacy compliant.

1. First and last mile transportation for public transit users.

Many people who work in cities spend several hours on public transport getting to and from work every day. Commuters who use their private vehicles to save time, money, and trouble cause even more congestion and pollution from their emissions. The inconvenience of getting to work leads to employees’ being late, demotivated, and overtired. It makes it difficult for companies to recruit and retain employees. The typical job that you can reach by public transportation within 90 minutes or less is available to 27%, only a small fraction of the world’s urban workforce. As demand rises for more sophisticated transportation across the globe, we will need to use technology and enhance transit infrastructure to keep up.

The Transit Bureaus and local governments have yet to overcome one of the most pressing challenges facing public transportation today; the “First and Last Mile Problem,” the distance a commuter needs to travel from a transit stop to their destination, or vice versa. Broadly speaking, the average journey can be divided into three distinct stages:

  • The first leg, usually the first connection from your home address
  • The main route, where often a form of public or shared transport is chosen
  • And the final leg, the last distance to one’s workplace or urban destination

Even though the current “first mile/last mile” problem may seem hard to solve, there are ways to deal with it. New transportation innovations such as peer-to-peer transportation, shared autonomous vehicles, and mobility-as-a-service are mentioned for their potential to improve accessibility and bridge the first/last-mile gap between origin and destination. They also mention good public transportation. Many cities are upgrading bike lane infrastructure and expanding access to on-demand micro transit services. Providing access to alternative public transit options like e-scooters or ride sharing is another strategy cities are implementing to address the first and last-mile dilemma.

Still, any future plan for mobility will have to appeal to people who don’t like to change their habits easily. Users’ preference for private vehicles and aversion to multimodality, a lack of public information and reliable multimodal travel advice, and apprehension about sharing rides with strangers all pose significant barriers to some smart mobility initiatives.

For over 15 years, ViNotion has been developing smart surveillance solutions for urban areas with sophisticated, artificially intelligent video analytics technology. Our solutions give those concerned with urban crowds and traffic total situational awareness of any desired scenario. Through computer vision technology, we provide in-depth insight into the dynamic behavior of all traffic. This includes motorized vehicles but also pedestrians and cyclists. The statistical data yields insights into visitor numbers and the counts of traffic participants, but also about their movement direction and travel speed. ViNotion’s smart surveillance systems can even detect abnormal behavior. Not only does this enable crowd and traffic managers to improve safety and efficiency in Smart Cities, but it also provides valuable real-time information for transit bureaus and for communication with the public about current and expected traffic, public transportation availability and last mile options, parking availability, and crowding in busy public spaces. 

This makes it easier for the public to determine their travel choices. When the first- and last-mile is more conveniently organized, allowing travelers to catch connecting cabs, ride-hailing services, buses or trains, or book bike rentals, and time their journey well informed and easily, public transportation becomes more appealing.

Fast and free delivery food by scooter in the afternoon in the city

2. Facilitating the movement of goods within, into, and out of a city.

Traffic jams in city centers and congested urban areas waste a tremendous amount of time and fuel; they also, all too often, jeopardize the dependability of estimated time of arrival (ETAs) for drivers and their cargo. Trucks stuck in heavy city traffic cost freight forwarders millions every year. Evidently, the expansion of urban areas and cities to accommodate the growing urban population increases the demand for freight transport. In fact, as the number of people living in cities keeps growing, the importance of freight transport in cities is becoming more and more important. Freight flows and the movement of goods within, into, or out of a city are affected by this growth. Smart and efficient urban transportation is key to making sure that goods can be moved around in the future.

Vinotion’s ViSense® intelligent image interpretation solutions ensure that those concerned with the transport of goods in urban areas can gain full situational awareness of any traffic scenario, 24/7. ViSense® combines smart sensors and the latest video analytics technology to deliver comprehensive real-time data, in-depth insights, and enable reliable predictions. We can implement threshold values and live triggers to alert parties and response systems when specific circumstances arise. City planners, urban crowd and traffic authorities, and logistical parties can now gain complete situational awareness of the dynamic challenges that rapid urbanization poses to urban logistics. With ViSense® data at their disposal, they can propose more effective urban logistics measures and initiatives that help reduce the impact of rapid urbanization. It lets them plan smarter cities with better plans for transportation and logistics management and step in when things go wrong.

ViSense® provides the most versatile and highly accurate data to monitor, analyze, optimize, and manage city centers’ high-density environments. Our innovative technology can be deployed in a variety of scenarios for different logistical purposes in urban areas; to save time and money; make roads safer; plan more effectively; and further plan urban infrastructure. From monitoring congestion at major intersections to route planning and rerouting, prioritizing trucks, optimizing logistic schedules, navigation, cost calculation, and reliable prediction of arrival times (ETAs), the real-time and historical data and intelligent predictions provide an excellent resource for the planning and management of the efficient movement of goods within, into, and out of cities and busy urban areas.

Electrionic traffic sign stating Expect Delays with blurred traffic at sunset

3. Optimizing traffic flow on congested freeways and arterial streets in urban areas

Traffic management is of strategic importance for virtually every city. Congestion often occurs in and around urban areas, and in Europe it costs almost €100 billion annually, or 1% of the EU’s GDP. While some of the traffic problems in cities are the result of rapid urbanization, others are caused by poor infrastructure, shortcomings in urban planning, or inadequate traffic control management. Outdated timing of traffic lights causes more than 10% of all traffic delays on major routes in urban areas.

ViSense® collects, combines, and analyses data from traffic and crowds to unlock important real-time insights about roads and traffic. ViNotion’s machine-learning algorithms deliver predictive recommendations to improve traffic flow in urban areas, provide insights into traffic hot spots, accelerate emergency responses, and enable smarter traffic approaches. Municipalities and road authorities can tap into more data than ever before with ViSense® smart video surveillance solutions to keep roads safe and traffic flowing.

ViSense® systems offer state-of-the-art AI video surveillance solutions that provide complete and accurate situational awareness of what’s happening on the road in real-time. ViSense® enables intelligent, responsive operation of advanced traffic control systems through its versatile data and can be deployed to enhance traditional traffic control systems to improve traffic flow in real-time.

4. Limiting the impact of climate change and reducing carbon emissions.

When fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel burn, carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, is released into the atmosphere. With the rapid growth of urban populations, traffic congestion, associated air pollution, and aging infrastructure, cities are placing themselves at the core of the fight against carbon emissions. Cities are responsible for 60-80% of all energy consumption and about 70% of the world’s carbon emissions. Urban mobility is a 40% contributor to total CO2 emissions from road transport.

Shifting to low-emission transport options—such as walking, cycling, public transport, and zero-emission vehicles—brings economic benefits to cities and significantly improves the quality of life for city residents. Cities that take the lead in adapting to climate change are installing infrastructure for electric vehicles, creating attractive cycling conditions and pedestrian zones, or converting public vehicle fleets and buses to electric vehicles. They encourage shared-use mobility options and are putting green waves for trucks and cyclists in place.

ViNotion helps cities reduce their carbon emissions. With smart sensors and advanced AI Video Interpretation software, ViSense® provides the most versatile and highly accurate traffic data output to help city planners and traffic managers better understand urban traffic patterns and make decisions about how best to allocate resources and plan for improving public transit, encouraging active lifestyles, and reducing congestion. The real-time data provides a reliable resource for immediate intervention and 24/7 dynamic urban traffic control. Green waves and prioritization of individuals or groups of traffic, such as trucks and cyclists, are instrumental in reducing CO2 emissions and improving the quality of life in urban areas. Our computer vision experts have been working with urban planners, traffic bureaus, and road authorities for years to develop and implement intelligent traffic monitoring systems to improve traffic flow, accessibility, and safety in cities and to lower emissions and the environmental impact of urban traffic.

With real-time insight into complex traffic situations, an active response can be made to help traffic flow, limit unnecessary braking by trucks, and make clean travel such as cycling and walking more convenient and attractive. Historical data helps traffic and city authorities identify patterns and make infrastructural adjustments to improve traffic flow, reduce emissions, and improve quality of life by decreasing the environmental impact of urban traffic.

Using reliable real-time data, personalized apps can give commuters, residents, and visitors to cities the tools they need to plan their trips while taking the environment and surroundings into account.

Rays of sunlight shine on the busy people walking across an intersection in Midtown Manhattan in New York City NYC

5.  Improving safety and livability for residents, commuters, and visitors.

While urban areas experience many benefits from advancements in development in the form of jobs and opportunities, rapid population growth and urbanization are threatening the quality of life in our neighborhoods, cities, and suburbs. The changes undermine many of the qualities that attracted residents to cities and bustling urban areas in the first place. Improvement in urban livability has become the primary goal of urban development. It affects the lives of the public and is related to the development of the national economy, social harmony, and social progress. Whether national, regional, and local governments can aggressively act to preserve and enhance livability in the years ahead will determine whether cities and communities will be sustainably satisfying or even acceptable places to live.

For years, polls have shown that transportation in many urban areas is one of the biggest concerns of city dwellers—and with good reason. In fact, automobile traffic continues to grow even faster than the population, with the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita increasing. This increase in car use means more traffic jams and delays for people who live, work, or visit cities. Current transportation trends undermine urban livability in several ways. The most important of these are:

  • Residents have little choice but to take the car for many trips, because public transportation, cycling, or walking are not easy options.
  • Commuters spend more and more time commuting long distances or sitting in traffic jams.
  • Residents who are unable to drive or cannot afford a car are limited in their mobility.
  • Increasing traffic causes safety, comfort, and noise pollution, especially on residential streets.
  • Traffic congestion delays the movement of goods and is an additional cost to local businesses.
  • Motor vehicles degrade air and water quality because of their emissions and large amounts of heavy metals and oil that wash off paved surfaces and into waterways.

A “livable” neighborhood is one that is “pleasing, safe, affordable, and supportive of the urban community.” Key parts of a “livable” community often include an attractive, pedestrian-friendly public realm; low traffic speed, volume, and congestion; a clean natural environment; places that feel safe and welcoming to a wide range of users; and convenient, friendly, community-oriented social environments.

Cities across the world face many threats to the future livability of their communities. Problem areas include the following:

  • Rising traffic congestion. A continued increase in per capita vehicle miles traveled is not sustainable, and growing traffic volumes and congestion undermine the livability of urban communities worldwide. The only way to address the problem is to undertake initiatives in interrelated areas. To reduce the amount of driving alternate modes should be facilitated. Improved pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit facilities can provide alternatives to driving. And pricing incentives such as parking charges and reduced-price transit passes can encourage residents, commuters, and visitors to use their cars less.
  • Real or perceived problems of safety within communities. Even when crime rates are declining in cities, concerns about safety motivate many residents to move to fringe suburban areas. One way to address safety concerns is adding infrastructural or design features that increase “eyes on the street”.
  • Threats to environmental quality. City residents care deeply about a healthy environment. Air and water pollution, toxic chemicals, nonrenewable resource consumption, and loss of ecosystems all threaten the livability and sustainability of urban communities. Expanded monitoring and enforcement of existing environmental law, cooperative environmental stewardship processes, restoration of damaged ecosystems, and intelligent travel and transportation reforms to reduce driving, can all help improve the environment.

In order to tackle these and other related challenges, understanding the causes is key. Reliable, real-time, data-based anonymized multi-modal data offers you dynamical insight and actionability. Our solutions support you and your goals with Intelligent Video Analytics to oversee complex and dynamic situations 24/7, saving you effort, time, and costs, and above all, handing you highly reliable data-based actionability. Intelligent crowd and traffic surveillance solutions from ViSense® help to improve the livability of cities and urban areas by improving traffic flow and access, making cities and urban areas safer, and reducing the environmental impact of urban mobility.

What is ViSense®?

ViSense® is an intelligent video surveillance system that collects, combines, analyses, and releases in-depth data  and insights on the behavior of urban crowds and individuals in those crowds, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and other traffic participants, such as motorized vehicles.

The ViSense® system

ViSense® is an intelligent surveillance system consisting of an advanced AI video analyzer and a high-grade camera sensor. With the optional DIN rail clip, the analysis unit can also be put in a 19-inch server rack.

Smart transport technology concept for future car traffic on road . Virtual intelligent system makes digital information analysis to connect data of vehicle on city street . Futuristic innovation .

ViSense® data

ViSense® can register the number of visitors in urban spaces and their movement patterns. It can be used for many applications, such as monitoring the behavior of individuals in crowds, increasing client experience and satisfaction levels around malls, measuring the effect of promotional activities, monitoring social distancing, or safeguarding the public in crowded urban spaces. ViSense® is a real-time measurement system that enables you to respond directly to potential congestion through the efficient routing of crowds and to safety threats by alerting security forces. ViSense® can be deployed to improve public safety in nightlife areas, busy public spaces, and other complex or essential urban environments such as commercial centers. The system can be connected directly to existing surveillance rooms and gives information about how many people are there and how they move around. It can also send out different alerts, such as panic, congestion, and more. ViNotion developed the advanced AI solution to help city authorities gain complete situational awareness in any type of urban traffic or crowd scenario. In addition to permanent installations, ViNotion also performs temporary measurements for various types of infrastructure with different complexities, such as motorway interchanges, roundabouts with or without multiple driving lanes, and crossings with turning lanes.

ViSense® leverages Machine Learning and Deep learning to analyze the behavior of traffic participants. Not only motorized vehicles (such as cars, buses, and trucks), but also pedestrians and cyclists are detected and analyzed accurately. Measurements are performed by smart cameras. In real-time, ViSense® generates information on intensity and arrival time (ETA), but also triggers, e.g., congestion of incident events. Unique Deep Learning models even allow us to provide information on crossing pedestrians and the use of bike lanes.

As traffic is evolving and roads become more crowded, modifications to the current traffic infrastructure are essential to prevent congestion. ViSense® gives insight into the traffic flows of complex traffic situations, such as crossings and roundabouts. This way, ViSense® enables us to justify and validate infrastructural modifications. Intelligent transportation systems are commonly calibrated based on traffic flows. ViSense® can analyze and display traffic flows from multiple directions, including turns and complex maneuvers such as U-turns. Such information can be used to improve ITS calibration to optimize traffic flow.

ViSense®’s main objective is to provide the best possible information to grant total situational awareness of complex traffic scenarios, crowds, and public spaces—offering freedom of choice in the desired insights. 

  • High accuracy: The accuracy of ViSense® is outstanding. On average, ViSense® achieves an accuracy level above 95%!
  • Insightful dashboard: The ViSense® can show data on your own dashboard and make all relevant information easy to find on your web-portal or digital twin.
  •  Extensions: We offer additional modules to extend the system capabilities, such as density calculation for more detailed visitor analysis.
  • Broad Passages: Analyze traffic flows in passages with a width of up to 18 meters using a single system. The ViSense® system has no problem with wide streets.
  • Export data: ViSense® provides an easy export function that makes all relevant information accessible in spreadsheets, enabling you to perform your own analysis as well.
  • Powered by ViNotion: ViSense® was developed by ViNotion, a leading expert in the field of intelligent image analysis.

Want to discover if intelligent video analytics can help you handle urban mobility challenges?

Get in contact.  We will explore your need, circumstances, and concerns to determine whether and how we might be of assistance.

ViNotion B.V.
Phone +31 (0)40 236 6761

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