Smart technologies can reduce traffic accidents. Some applications designed with an eye toward improving mobility have the secondary effect of reducing harm. E-hailing, for example, provides a safe and convenient alternative to getting behind the wheel of a car. It is estimated that it can reduce traffic fatalities by more than one percent in some cities or countries such as India where the rate of traffic fatalities is high, primarily by cutting down on driving while drunk or otherwise impaired.
Removing cars from the road through applications such as congestion pricing can decrease the likelihood of pedestrian and cyclist accidents, while improving traffic flow with intelligent signals can decrease risky driving at intersections. But the biggest potential breakthrough could occur if autonomous (self-driving) vehicles become technically and commercially feasible and are adopted at sufficient scale.
Applications that improve code inspection and enforcement (such as fire safety standards) can also have an impact. New Orleans, for instance, applied analytics to U.S. Census Bureau Data and came up with a plan to distribute smoke alarms to residences deemed to be at high risk. Chicago has a small team of food safety inspectors covering thousands of restaurants. The city has created an algorithm to predict which ones are most likely to be in violation of health codes and deploy those inspectors more effectively. Chicago officials created the algorithm using open-source tools and shared it on GitHub, inviting users to improve the model and making it available to other cities.
Washington D.C., has since used it to establish its own data-driven restaurant safety inspections. Chicago’s public health department has also partnered with the University of Chicago to create an analytics-based approach to identify structures where children may be exposed to lead paint.