City of Edmonton and IBM work towards smarter urban traffic safety

Back in March, the City of Edmonton was chosen among 24 cities worldwide to be part of IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge – an initiative that recognizes cities that are revolutionizing the way they use data and technology to overcome infrastructure challenges and bring benefit to residents.

Being a part of this exclusive high-tech partnership means that Edmonton received $400,000 worth of consulting from the American technology giant. And for three weeks in May, a team of technical experts, researchers and consultants in transportation and business intelligence spent three weeks with City staff brainstorming what Edmonton’s future could look like. The conclusion? according to the Smarter Cities Challenge team, The City of Edmonton is well-positioned to be a global leader in smarter urban traffic safety.

The team looked at how to improve the integration, analysis and transmission of data that can be used for decision making across the City, with a specific focus on traffic safety issues and prioritization of road safety initiatives. Its report makes a number of recommendations regarding an integrated and safer transportation network for all modes: freight, transit, road, cyclist and pedestrian.

“Being named a 2011 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipient recognizes Edmonton’s place as a global leader,” says Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel. “This means that the City of Edmonton, with the support of industry experts, will use data to make our streets safer and flow more efficiently. We are starting with traffic safety as a priority that is of utmost importance to our citizens, but the applications of this project are city-wide.”

Other recommendations from the team include:

  • Empower citizens with more timely traffic safety and transportation information via social media;
  • Simplify performance measurements and align traffic safety measures to corporate outcomes;
  • Create an Analytics Centre of Excellence to support a Road Safety data governance model and analytics leadership across the organization;
  • Strengthen the governance and accountability of the City’s Office of Traffic Safety;
  • Further support open government and open data for traffic safety and transportation.

According to Bernie Kollman, IBM vice president, Alberta Public Sector, “Our cities are challenged by rapid urbanization, aging infrastructure and disconnected systems. Cities are finding creative new ways to collaborate with public and private sector partners, and IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge is one of those opportunities. Edmonton is well placed to reach its urban traffic safety and transportation vision. The City has a strong culture of innovation and progressive citizen-focused services and has made significant investments in state-of-the-art road safety instrumentation.”

With the direction set, the City of Edmonton will continue to look at new ways of using technology and open data to collaborate with residents and transform the way we move in our city. It certainly feels like an exciting time.

The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program in which IBM is awarding a total of $50 million worth of technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide over the next three years.


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About the Author
Christopher Webster
Christopher Webster is a Communications Advisor with the Community Services Branch.
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