Improved traffic flow one of goals of Ford Mobility, Windsor collaboration

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell

 

https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/ford-mobility-and-windsor-colloborate-on-transportation-data-project

 

Ford Mobility and the City of Windsor have announced a collaboration on a transportation data project aimed at improving the quality of life and safety of residents.

The Windsor project is the first that Ford Mobility, a technology division of the Ford Motor Company, has established with a Canadian city.

Program data are still being collected and it’s expected to launch in the next couple of months.

“Ford has developed a program that municipalities can share to drive better solutions,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

“Ford is a leader and moving forward 10 years from now, capturing and the sharing of data, will be the main topic out there.”

By tracking data from Ford vehicles equipped with communications software already activated for connectivity, data will be collected that can help the city improve traffic flow, traffic signal timing and public transit route planning, as well as identify accident hotspots and monitor traffic speed and vehicle stop patterns.

That data will go directly to Ford Mobility, and the city is also providing its own crash and other traffic-related statistics.

“This project will focus on safety,” said Jeff Hagan, the City of Windsor’s transportation planning senior engineer.

“It’ll help inform our decisions and plans for infrastructure or changes to policy.”

Ford Mobility’s product-owner Cal Coplai said the program collects and interprets data at a much deeper level, and its predictive tools help develop simulated solutions that forecast the impact on safety and costs of adding features like a bike lane or signal at trouble spots.

“Currently, safety analysis and planning is mostly reactive,” Coplai said. “We can be more proactive. We can predict the impact of investments and analyze systems for the most efficient solutions.

“It saves time, money and, most importantly, lives.”

Coplai said there are tens of thousands of Ford products on Windsor roads from which the data will be collected. All personal data will be stripped out, he added, and only transportation-related data will be inputted.

By tapping into the automaker’s existing onboard technologies, officials will be able to gather a treasure trove of information on everything from acceleration and braking to routes favoured and road traction.

The program also allows the data to be filtered to analyze specifics like collisions with pedestrians and cyclists in a matter of seconds.

“Cars are just rolling computers,” Coplai said.

“Auto mobility is really technology. That’s why automakers call themselves technology companies.”

The WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation sees the efficient and safe movement of people and goods as a key component of the region’s economic health and will cover the $30,000 cost of the year-long project with funding from a FedDev Ontario grant for auto mobility ecosystem building.

It also fits with the plan to make Windsor a connected, smart city.

Matt Johnson, executive director of WEEDC’s Institute for Border Logistics and Security, said Windsor officials were introduced to the program as a result of the city’s involvement with Detroit and Ann Arbor on the World Economic Forum’s cross-border mobility study.

The Safety Insights program has already been embraced in several U.S. cities recognized as progressive tech hubs — Pittsburgh, Austin, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Indianapolis.

Johnson said the Windsor project has been a year in the making.

“What initially drew us to Ford Mobility was that it aligned perfectly with our strategic plan of building binational partnerships and the future economy by leveraging the data to help inform real-time transportation planning,” Johnson said.

“WEEDC is focused on transitioning into the auto mobility capital of Canada and this project aligns to our connectivity pillar.

“Auto mobility takes our experience and knowledge of manufacturing and layers in all of the information technology innovation needed in the movement of people and goods.”