Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Technology to Help Design More Efficient Cities

Following one of our previous blog entries about 'reactive design' in cities, a new approach to learning about, and monitoring traffic movement within cities has been developed in Zurich, Switzerland. Software designers have created a program which aims to map the spatial and temporal patterns that characterise the various road users.

ETH researchers Daniel K├╝ttel and Michael Breitenstein teamed up with professors Luc Van Gool and Vittorio Ferrari from the Institute of Image Processing to create a new software program that can learn from watching moving objects, analyzing things like street scenes and figuring out patterns and habits of things like moving vehicles. The new technology allows the computer to recognize things like the movements of normal traffic flow and any changes in that "normal" situation.
The software still needs to find a home in traffic coordination, but the potential is there for everything from analyzing traffic and improving flows in congested areas or after an accident, or running traffic lights to make intersections safer.
Not only would this type of project create solutions to traffic and movement issues, it would allow us to implement interventions to make the city a more efficient and safer place. We can assess pedestrian and vehicular routes and create focal points such as median strips and roundabouts or 'islands' to give identity and place-making qualities to an otherwise grey, urban environment.

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