Tackling road deaths with crowdsourced data

By on 25 October, 2017

Indian Ocean Drive, Western Australia. Photo by Phillip Capper, via Wikimedia Commons.

A new collaboration in Western Australia crowdsources driver feedback, harnessing location in an attempt to tame one of the state’s most infamous black spots.

Australia’s road toll is a public health burden that governments at all levels perpetually labour to address. Road fatalities killed 1,295 Australians in 2016, a 7.5 percent increase on 2015’s figure. Around the country, federal and state agencies develop and execute gargantuan strategies to protect and educate road users in a sustained and costly effort to reduce these numbers.

Towards Zero, Western Australia’s road safety strategy for 2008 to 2020, is trialing new technology as part of a safety audit for one of the state’s most notorious black spots, a component of their drive for 11,000 fewer road deaths in the state by 2020.

Indian Ocean Drive is a snaking, scenic road that winds between the some of Western Australia’s most striking nature reserves and up the Turquoise Coast, some 300 kilometres from Perth’s northern suburbs to Dongara, south of Geraldton. It features heavily in state tourism promotion and appears often in ‘top ten’ and ‘best of’ lists in travel and touring guides for the state.

It also claims a shockingly disproportionate number of lives, the site of over 50 serious accidents in the past 18 months and killing six so far in 2017. Western Australia’s Road Safety Commission has fast-tracked a $7 million investment in new overtaking lanes on Indian Ocean Drive as part of a $55 million regional road safety investment.

In a fresh attempt to stem the tide of incidents along this stretch of road, the Road Safety Commission (RSC) has released a web application for road users to report and log incidents on a map of the Indian Ocean Drive. Under the theme “Have your say”, motorists can contribute to the Road Safety Commission’s interactive map by uploading a photo of their area of concern, then providing a description of the issue and tagging its location on the map.

The application is mobile-friendly, intended to elicit immediate incident reporting, and was developed by Esri Australia in collaboration with the RSC, based on their ArcGIS Online platform. Esri says this approach attempts to use spatial data to support Towards Zero, using location to reveal patterns and provide the government with actionable intelligence to inform planning decisions. They aimed to make the app accessible to non-expert users, with the aim of building understanding and engaging the community.

Explore Toward Zero’s Indian Ocean Drive app below, or at their dedicated web portal.

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