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17 December 2010

Road to a safer future

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A successful collaborative effort between researchers and industry partners has led to the development of an automated and robust traffic surveillance system, which could make road travel across Europe safer for all

We may not fully appreciate it when commuting to and from work via motorways, bridges and tunnels, but road traffic surveillance systems play a key role in mitigating congestion and enabling emergency services to respond to accidents in an effective and rapid manner. E! 4160 VICATS, a successful collaborative research effort sponsored by EUREKA, has yielded highly promising results in the development of an innovative surveillance system which requires minimal human input. The new software could transform existing systems, improve robustness and establish a new paradigm in road traffic monitoring.

The project, coordinated by Dr Vladimir Crnojević at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, has been founded upon an official cooperation between said university and University College Ghent, Belgium, and has also drawn on the skills and expertise of two industrial partners working in the field, Fitis-JU (Serbia) and Traficon N.V. (Belgium). Such interface between research and industry has proven crucial in the application of the software, which uses computer algorithms to develop real-time assessment models for traffic management.

Until now, video surveillance systems have been heavily reliant on intensive human input and concentration; footage captured on closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems is directed to centralised surveillance control centres, where it is studied and analysed by individuals. Although technological advancements have ensured that CCTV installation is economical, the financial costs of employing individuals to analyse footage continuously are substantial. Yet, more pointedly, the extent of information that must be processed by humans demands a great deal of concentration, which, regrettably, means that errors and misjudgements can be – and indeed are – made on occasion, with potentially fatal consequences.


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