ParkingDetection in Smart City magazine D!CITY

Smart cameras for cities of future

How to solve growing traffic congestion, even without investing huge amounts of money into the building of new infrastructure? How to use actual parking spaces effectively and monitor their occupancy cheaply and precisely? How to use cameras to detect traffic accidents even before they happen? These are some of the questions that the newest edition of a Smart City magazine called D!CITY tries to answer. The newest edition also included two Smart City solutions using cameras: ParkingDetection and DataFromSky. There are also articles about other high-tech Smart City companies, including our partner, OMS Lighting.

In the past, the main task for cameras was to record stories. Unfortunately, these could be interpreted only by humans. Thanks to the increased availability of high-quality cameras and the immense technological advancement in the field of AI and machine learning, a camera has become a universal Smart City sensor. Nowadays, cameras can serve as “the smart eyes of smart cities”. This marks the beginning of a new era, where image can be processed also by machines and where the camera represents a rich source of data at even very low costs. What are the main areas of traffic analysis, where a camera already proves itself in action?

A smart solution for congested traffic?

In times where individual transport increases faster than ever before, traffic congestion or even collapses can occur on a daily basis. Parking can negatively influence the overall traffic fluency, especially when drivers are trying to find an empty parking space in an infrastructure. But what if the current infrastructure is overloaded already? One of the possible solutions is to use parking spots more effectively or navigate drivers to parking lots with available places for parking. As far as technical and economic aspects are concerned, a camera represents a suitable solution for monitoring of even hundreds of parking spots. It is due to the fact that even very large parking lots can be covered by a single camera at very low costs. If we also add an ALPR camera for number plate reading into the system, we get a number of potential technical solutions for residential parking. This includes reservations of individual parking spots or even increased safety within the parking lot.

Adaptive intersections

Cameras are becoming a prominent technology for traffic analysis also at so-called “adaptive intersections”. They can accurately detect not only vehicles but also pedestrians and cyclists, which also play an important role in the given traffic flow. With smart traffic lights control, based on data from a network of sensors, the whole system becomes way more fluent, flexible and safer. Another use of cameras lies in the field of smart lighting, as the camera can collect visual data and use to analyze public spaces, monitor traffic or detect anomalous behaviour. This gives us many possibilities of designing smart streets with the use of a smart camera system. And even something as common as public lighting can be used for this purpose.

Traffic analysis from a Bird’s eye view

Higher traffic fluency can be achieved even without the expensive building of new infrastructure. You just need a bird’s-eye view. If we give camera “wings”, for example by attaching it to an unmanned aerial vehicle, we get a monitoring system for advanced traffic analysis which is not only very accurate but also at an affordable price. This is exactly what our project DataFromSky deals with – as there are several research projects that require just this type of traffic analysis. The system can detect vehicles and other participants of the traffic flow, which includes not only their trajectories and speed but also the detection of possibly dangerous behaviour with deep-learning and artificial intelligence. This can even detect traffic accidents before they actually happen, which can provide traffic engineers with very valuable data about traffic accidents within the tested area. With data like this, you can possibly look for ways how to avoid them in the future with convenient preventive measures. By the way, even you can become a traffic expert – with our new app DataFromSky LIGHT. All you need is your mobile phone!

Are we on the brink of an age of cameras? In the not-so-distant past, autonomous vehicles, or using drones for traffic analysis would sound as science fiction. Nowadays, these technologies are already becoming a reality, also thanks to the advancement in cameras and artificial intelligence. It is becoming clear that cameras will play an important role in the future of Smart Cities.

The full magazine in English is available with this link.