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Study: Smartphone data could cut crashes

Jan. 4, 2013 at 7:02 PM

BEER-SHEVA, Israel, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Data from smartphone traffic apps can help prevent traffic crashes by helping deploy police resources at the most accident-prone areas, Israeli researchers say.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev say data from geosocial networks like the Global Positioning System traffic app Waze can identify locations where collisions occur most frequently.

Waze, with a reported 30 million worldwide users, records location data and enables users to upload and share comments on traffic alerts, collisions or police presence.

"Only now are we beginning to discover the potential in the huge amount of data collected daily," BGU researcher Michael Fire said. "Studies of this kind, which monitor events such as traffic accidents over time, can help the police identify dangerous sections of roads in real time, or alternatively, locations where few police are needed."

Researchers using Waze data in conjunction with Google Earth were able to determine that of the locations in Israel with the highest number of collisions, three-quarters were intersections.

Waze data on police presence allowed them to determine whether the police were present at the spots that had the worst traffic accidents.

"There were numerous instances where the police were manning quieter intersections, while busier intersections went unmonitored," Fire said. "According to the data, police response time varied from 20 minutes to 40 minutes in some situations."

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