Blog: How Ford Safety Insights Help Cities Improve Their Streets

The Ford Motor Co. connection to the city of Windsor stretches back more than a century, ever since Henry Ford opened his first Canadian operation in 1904 and started production of the Model C. That cross-border collaboration has never ceased — and now we’re taking that relationship to the next level in an attempt to help reduce car crashes and improve the safety of city streets.
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Safety Insights platform
Ford is introducing its Safety Insights platform to Windsor in an attempt to make the city’s streets safer. // Image courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

The Ford Motor Co. connection to the city of Windsor stretches back more than a century, ever since Henry Ford opened his first Canadian operation in 1904 and started production of the Model C. That cross-border collaboration has never ceased — and now we’re taking that relationship to the next level in an attempt to help reduce car crashes and improve the safety of city streets.

Last October, we officially launched the Safety Insights platform, an innovative software tool that can help governments with their mission to build smarter, safe transportation systems. Now, we’re proud to announce that Windsor has become our first Canadian customer.

What is Safety Insights? Safety Insights is an award-winning, web-based tool that provides transportation engineers and planners with a comprehensive view of traffic safety in their communities, equipped with features that help them plan in a more proactive way to help save time, money, and most importantly, lives. Safety Insights identifies hotspots where crashes occur often to help cities determine how to make those areas safe.

How does this benefit cities? Many cities and government agencies already use transportation data to identify troublesome traffic issues and make safety improvements, but this can be a costly and time-consuming process. With Safety Insights, we’ve integrated traditionally used data like crash data right into the software, combined it with aggregated data from connected Ford vehicles, and provided simulations and predictions that inform city planners about mitigation options. Because Safety Insights automates much of the data integration and analysis tasks, cities can spend fewer resources crunching numbers and instead focus their energy on improving the safety of their streets.

How does it work? Safety Insights streamlines work for cities in three key ways:

  • Data integration and visualization: The program lets city planners see traffic and crash data in an easy-to-use interface. And because it integrates data from connected Ford vehicles, it can offer important insight into what parts of the city may be susceptible to crashes — ideally before the crash trends emerge. That means cities can analyze roads with high frequencies of indicators such as harsh braking, traction control issues, near misses, and more to better understand the context around the number of reported crashes. Finally, Safety Insights integrates multi-modal traffic volume data from StreetLight Data, an industry-leader in transportation and big data metrics.
  • Hotspot identification: Safety Insights helps cities identify safety hotspots based on best practices from the Highway Safety Manual, an industry standard, trusted methodology published by the U.S. government. Using these methods, Safety Insights can inform city planners and engineers about which locations experience more crashes and can help prioritize which infrastructure or operational solutions might help address these issues. Users can filter data by type of collision, so cities can analyze crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists, rear end crashes or rush hour collisions, and more. With Safety Insights, these analyses are done in seconds, instead of days or weeks.
  • Solution simulation: By integrating a database of hundreds of safety countermeasures, Safety Insights can help cities prioritize and simulate the potential safety solutions, allowing them to understand the predicted costs and benefits of reducing crashes on specific roads and intersections. For example, they could simulate the impact on crash reduction of adding a crosswalk or bike lane, or adjusting the signal timing on traffic lights. The methodology behind these calculations is based on best practice methods trusted by traffic safety professionals.

Why is Ford developing this software? For more than 100 years, Ford has been dedicated to improving vehicle safety. As we continue to strengthen that commitment, we believe it’s important to look beyond the individual vehicle and think about how we can collaborate with cities and governments to help improve transportation on an even larger scale. With Safety Insights, we’ve combined overall crash and traffic statistics with aggregated insights from connected vehicles, harnessing that information to empower cities with the ability to make sound, informed decisions.

Callahan Coplai is Safety Insights lead for Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn

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