Two weeks ago, over 10,000 people from Australasia and beyond descended on Melbourne for the 2016 World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). I was fortunate enough to attend with Dave Smith to present on our NZ Transport Agency crowdsourcing research, meet with like-minded people and check out the emerging transport technologies that are predicted to bring transformative change to how we travel.
From a spatial perspective, one of the most interesting sessions was the “Smart Cities” plenary featuring Jack Dangermond as the keynote. While Jack presented nothing new in terms of Esri being a platform for intelligent transport and smart communities, his big announcement was the new partnership between Waze and Esri through the Connected Citizens programme. Both Waze and Esri Australia also had a strong presence at the conference, showing demos and presenting on a range of topics on the role of spatial data and analytics in the transportation area.
The highlight of the congress was the range of demonstrations available. We were lucky to secure a spot on a demonstration of vehicle localisation in a vehicle equipped by Ibeo Automotive. Localisation is the process whereby in-vehicle sensors such as radar and lidar to correctly locate a vehicle in areas where GPS is unreliable, for example in urban Melbourne.
By locating and referencing the vehicle against reference data, the GPS signal can be corrected and the vehicle’s location mapped correctly. This is vitally important for autonomous vehicles as a difference of 1-2 metres could place a vehicle in the wrong lane, or at worse, on the wrong side of the road. You can see in this image the difference between the GPS position (yellow arrow) and the corrected position (blue box/arrow).
Another demonstration I went on was a ride in the Bosch highly automated Tesla development vehicle. On a dedicated loop, we were shown various types of technologies that work together to enable automated driving. This included eye tracking technologies to ensure the driver didn’t fall asleep, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to alert the driver to approaching hazards.
The Bosch vehicle also relies on high precision TomTom mapping data, including a road centreline, localisation data, 3D layers and associated attributes that help the vehicle decide how to behave in different road environments.
Finally, our trip was topped off by being awarded the “Best Technical Paper” for the Asia-Pacific region. A great effort for the research team given the large number of papers presented from this region.
All in all, I’m excited to share my learnings with the Interpret team and the opportunities that ITS offers for spatial industries to develop future innovative transportation solutions.
Spring is finally getting its act together, the days are getting longer and warmer and summer is looking oh so close. Find a nice sunny perch and check out what we have in this fortnight’s Strictly Spatial! This fortnight we explore a new partnership with two geospatial giants, population variations in New Zealand, building height data in Mapbox, and more!
Last week at the ITS World Congress Esri announced a new partnership with the traffic and navigation app, Waze. The partnership, detailed in this Esri blog post, explains how Esri and Waze will work together in an open data sharing arrangement. This means more real-time data fed directly into Esri software and apps. Techcrunch has also written an informative article on the new partnership.
Over time population distributions change. The changes can be attributed to many factors, such as changing economies, aging populations and natural events. This map by Dumpark shows how the population distribution in New Zealand has changed between the 2001 and 2013 censuses. It very clearly shows the movement of people from the regions to the main cities. Even clearer is the change in Christchurch post earthquake! The map clearly highlights regions in the east which were affected by the earthquake(s) and regions that have significantly developed since (Rolleston).
Mapbox has recently released an updated version of their Mapbox Streets vector tiles (v7). This update adds building height data. The data is derived from building information (number of floors) taken from OpenStreetMap. Therefore, the accuracy and coverage may vary depending on where you’re wanting to map – compare Christchurch to New York! If you’re keen to work with this new data, Maps Mania has published a handy guide on using the new data.
We often think of using GIS to model the natural world or to manage man made (and natural) assets. However, if you stretch the principles of GIS outwards you can begin to model human behaviour. Using a BIM (Building Information Model) you are able to model crowd behaviour, in 3D! You can read more about it here.
With self-driving cars becoming a reality, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is being used to improve the decision making of these vehicles. But what about geospatial AI? Niall Conway has written a short piece on the emergence of AI in Geospatial. It is a very informative read, check it out here.
With spring in full swing the days are getting warmer, nights are getting longer and summer is fast approaching! Maybe it’s time to get out on the bike or go for a run and add to Strava’s 220 Billion GPS points? Or how about go exploring and see some real valley fog? Or even go for a road trip! And then hope you don’t get lost in a tunnel. If any of these sound like you, read on!
The German Federal Railway Authority (FRA) oversees 38,000kms of railway that transports 2 billion passengers and 300 million tons of freight every year. The FRA wanted to perform strategic noise mapping of the areas surrounding each railway, station and yard. On paper this seems like a relatively straight forward analysis. However, the FRA wanted highly accurate and robust analysis. This analysis therefore included factors such as changes of speed that occur near railway stations, timetabling information, locations and specifications of noise barriers, landscaping, terrain, structures (and the effects of the structure on noise), demographic information and more! You can read more about the study and how the analysis was performed here.
According to many, big data is the next big thing. It can provide insights into data that was previously thought to be useless and irrelevant. With increasingly powerful technologies and falling storage costs, more and more companies are investing in big data and displaying and analysing the results.
- Eric Fischer from Mapbox has displayed 10 years’ worth of Flickr geotagged photos and plotted the capturers travel between subsequent locations.
- Strava, a company that has developed mobile apps for running and cycling tracking have produced a heatmap that shows over 220 Billion, yes with a ‘B’, GPS points.
- Another map from Eric Fisher. This time he has used 6 Billion tweets, which is equivalent to 3tB of compressed JSON, and mapped them all.
GPS is a fantastic technology for the public, allowing users to not get lost in new places, navigate roads and find and experience new locations. However, its use is limited to locations where you have a clear view of the sky. As a result, navigating in thick forest, centres of cities and tunnels can prove to be difficult, if not impossible. The routing application developer, Waze, has developed a solution to this problem. Waze has designed and built small, Bluetooth, battery powered beacons that can be placed on tunnel walls. These beacons allow for motorists to continue to navigate and receive traffic updates in scenarios where GPS is not accessible.
Wireless communication is often key for remote communities to stay connected to the outside world. Topology, buildings and icebergs can block signals and cause interference. GIS is being used to find the best location for cell sites using line of sight and coverage analysis. GIS Lounge has written a short piece on this topic which you can read about here.
In nature it is uncommon to see valleys and mountains crystal clear. Often there is a fog or haze hanging around. Can you replicate this digitally? Of course you can! Flick through this short story map to find out how you can replicate valley fog
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