Geofencing Improves Safety in Sweden

In April 2017, a man drove a stolen truck into a crowded shopping district in central Stockholm and crashed into a department store, killing four people and injuring 15 others.

The terrorist attack prompted the Swedish government to investigate how digital technology could be used to prevent similar incidents in the future. He started a four-year research program to test a type, geofencing, in an urban environment.

Geofencing is a virtual tool in which software uses GPS or similar technology to trigger pre-programmed or real-time action to control the movement of vehicles within a geographic area. It can control vehicle speed within the zone, determine if the vehicle is there, and automatically switch hybrid vehicles to electric driving mode.

Johannes Berg, senior adviser on digitization at the Swedish Transport Administration, said the technology could improve traffic safety and lower emissions. It also has the ability to adjust speed depending on road and weather conditions and ensure compliance with rules, such as stopping a vehicle if the driver does not have a permit to enter the area with geofence, he added.

In simple uses – such as when a map with vehicle restrictions is downloaded before the start of the trip to automatically reduce speed when it enters a low-speed zone – vehicles do not need to be connected to an external source, Mr. Berge said.

But in more advanced applications – real-time use, for example – vehicles should be connected. The rules and regulations are in the tech cloud and can be changed depending on the actual condition of the vehicles, he said. “The cloud service can access the vehicle’s engine using the vehicle’s telematics connection.”

Sweden, which launched a series of geofencing trials in 2019, has long been a researcher in vehicle-related safety. In the 1990s, he introduced Vision Zero, an approach to security that addresses human error. The goal is to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries by creating multiple levels of safety; If one fails, others will create a safety net.

Sweden now has the lowest crash mortality rate in the world and many cities globally have implemented this approach. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation officially adopted a strategy to address the dramatic increase in mortality in the United States.

In Stockholm, geofencing pilot programs have focused on commercial traffic in the city center, such as assessing whether deliveries to businesses can be slower at night when there are usually fewer people on the streets.

“Switching to electric drive, with low speeds, can make truck deliveries almost quieter at night,” Mr. Berge said. “Increasing night delivery can reduce congestion during rush hour and create more traffic flow around the clock,” he said.

In other trials, sensors have been added to monitor the flow of pedestrians, capable of reducing speed in pilot vehicles. Mr. Berge said.

Gothenburg has taken the lead in testing geofencing on public transport. Since 2015, the city, in partnership with Electricity, a regional private-public partnership, including the Volvo Group, has been evaluating technology on two bus routes. The assessment focused on busy areas such as shopping streets and intersections. The city now has the ability to adjust geofenced zones based on real-time conditions, with bus operators automatically receiving information about changes.

During the trial, which was recently completed, the buses were operated in designated areas at safe and fuel-efficient speeds in electric drive mode.

“We see geofencing as a tool to build a safer city with better air quality and less noise,” said Malin Stold, project manager for the Gothenburg Urban Transport Administration.

Other pilot projects, some ongoing, include creating a smart urban traffic zone around schools to increase traffic safety and keep cyclists safe. Geofence technology, which prefers public transport vehicles at complex intersections, is already in use for everyday traffic in Gothenburg.

Geofencing can also contribute to a more dynamic use of city spaces, Ms. Stold said. “Areas can be easily changed and used for different purposes depending on the time of day or season.”

The trial is well received, Ms. Stold said. At least one more bus line plans to incorporate technology. Operators also approve of geofencing, she said, not only for safety reasons but also for vehicle wear.

Rodriguez Al Fahle, lead coordinator of the Swedish National Geofencing Program, said that geofencing technology has been evolving for some time and is being used to target messages on mobile phones based on the location of the phone; Manage commercial fleets; Set the maximum speed and control parking of the e-scooter; And to enhance some advanced driver-assistance systems, such as the Intelligent Speed ​​Assistance (ISA), which will be mandatory in all new vehicles in the European Union starting July.

Sweden is one of the most active countries experimenting with geofencing for general traffic, Mr. Al Fahl credited “a great collaborative atmosphere”.

However, collecting, standardizing and digitizing data on the scale required to implement geofencing widely is a challenge. First of all, developers should come up with a way to make traffic rules machine readable and set standards of communication. Mr. Al Fahl said.

However, collaboration in Europe has evolved through projects such as GeoSence and NordicWay to help progress.

Recent market analysis and advanced report concludes that geofencing is at the peak of more widespread use. “It’s a tool for cities,” Mr. Al Fahl said. “You can plan the city differently.”

“We are trying to see its potential and impact on the traffic and transport system. It is not just about the development of technology,” he said. Al Fahl said, but about creating a system that works and is accepted by all involved.

The pilot program has yielded promising results in its final year that the Swedish government is considering legislation to improve traffic and other regulations so that municipalities can use land-municipalization for traffic management, he said. Berg, of the Swedish Transport Administration.

New uses of technology can lead to privacy issues. But one reason the Swedish program focuses on professional drivers rather than private drivers, Mr. “We believe that the vehicle is different when it comes to the equipment provided by the employer,” Berg said, comparing it to employers’ ability to regulate the company’s computers.

However, one of the reasons the EU is considered the safest route in the world, experts said, is that member states emphasize community responsibility with individual rights.

“We realized that this technology may not be bulletproof to deter terrorists, but when you can make the technology smarter and make the transport system more dynamic, you can create a truly sustainable transport system,” he said. Berge said. “It simply came to our notice then.

“The higher purpose is safety and durability,” he said. “They go along.”

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