CEO & Co-Founder, MicroTraffic
Chief Data Officer & Senior Vice President, Data Science, Aviva Canada
By harnessing artificial intelligence to analyze near-miss data, Winnipeg startup MicroTraffic is helping to proactively mitigate traffic collisions.
Most Canadians are familiar with the Humboldt Broncos road tragedy that killed 16 people. While it’s all too common to encounter news about traffic collisions, new technology is enabling cities to build a safer future for drivers.
“Road safety is one of the hidden dangers of Canada,” says Craig Milligan, CEO and Co-Founder of MicroTraffic, a Winnipeg-based startup working to reduce traffic fatalities. “The size and depth of the pain and suffering coming from this issue aren’t top of mind for many people, but they’re very significant.”
“Whether we’re driving, biking, or walking, we all see the issues with safety on our roads. Every time I’m behind the wheel, I see many opportunities to use data to make our roads safer,” adds Baiju Devani, Chief Data Officer and Senior Vice President of Data Science at Aviva Canada, a leading property and auto insurance group.
There are about 2,000 road fatalities every year in Canada and many more serious injuries. The numbers aren’t improving, either — and the subset involving pedestrians and cyclists is on the rise. What makes these numbers especially vexing is the fact that they’re all preventable.
MicroTraffic is part of an effort to know the risk ahead of time and address it proactively.Craig Milligan, CEO and Co-Founder of MicroTraffic
The value of near-miss data
“Traffic engineers have traditionally used historical crash data to find high-risk intersections and to try to bring targeted infrastructure to them,” says Milligan. However, 75 percent of fatalities occur at locations where fatalities haven’t previously occurred, which means the reactive approach isn’t working.
Near misses — essentially close calls or near crashes — can help cities to better understand risks within intersections and to make modifications before any fatalities occur. While many cities already have cameras pointed at intersections where near-miss collisions happen every day, the information isn’t getting recorded or turning into action.
A unique, proactive solution
MicroTraffic is a video analytics company that uses artificial intelligence to review and assess intersection camera footage for collisions and near-miss collisions, providing traffic engineers with invaluable diagnostics.
“This technology allows governments to be more proactive,” says Milligan. “We’re not reactively waiting for risk factors to materialize as a result of a tragic outcome and then fixing them after the tragedy. MicroTraffic is part of an effort to know the risk ahead of time and address it proactively.”
To date, 37 governments — including in the Greater Toronto Area, Los Angeles, Austin, Detroit, New Jersey, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton — have programmed over $200 million of road safety improvements using MicroTraffic’s diagnostic technology: changing the signal timing, adding signs, and even reconfiguring intersections’ physical layouts. Some cities have seen intersections drop from 15 critical near misses per day to zero after measuring with MicroTraffic and installing an improvement. There’s no doubt: the company’s analytics are creating safer roads.
Working together to make cities safer
MicroTraffic is one of four startups that are part of the inaugural cohort of Aviva Insurance and Highline Beta’s Safe x Connected Cities Accelerator, a program that’s helping scale startups with a focus on tackling road safety, mobility, and smart city challenges. The program offers mentorship, networking, and pilot opportunities. This includes a grant program that will be coming later this year, and that will allow more Canadian municipalities to access MicroTraffic’s technology.
“The relationship Aviva Canada has with MicroTraffic is collaborative and partnership-based, and we’re excited to have them on board,” says Devani.