Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/12/glc_gis/

Geolocation tech to save 60 Londoners from being run over next year

Look out there's an accident hotspot just ther - Aarghh

By Bill Ray

Posted in Government, 12th April 2013 08:19 GMT

The Metropolitan Police will be using software from Croydon-based GGP Systems to analyse road traffic accidents in the capital, continuing a 30-year-old process to minimise road deaths.

The plan is to reduce the number people being killed and seriously injured on London's roads by 40 per cent by 2020. That's Mayor Boris Johnson's intention, but making it happen is largely down to the police. This is where GGP comes into the picture with its gathering of data for analysis, allowing officers to locate dangerous spots and mitigate against them.

"Using the GGP GIS (Geographic Information System) we can record the exact location of an incident together with other, possibly contributing, circumstances,” says the canned quote from plod.

“This information is then used by the Department of Transport and Transport for London to help identify potential improvements to road layouts in order to prevent further collisions"

Back in 1985 the Greater London Council understood that knowing where accidents were occurring was key to reducing them, and set about creating a geographical information system to log and track accident figures gathered by the Local Authorities.

The GLC didn't much hold with outsourcing, or private enterprise in general, so the in-house team created the charmingly named "Accstats" system. This ran entirely on PCs when competing systems required more serious (and expensive) computing power.

When the GLC was dismantled the IT operation was sold off, and in 1992 the GIS bit broke off into a separate company and has been selling software and services to local governments, police and fire services ever since.

The first system required local authorities to manually enter the details of every accident onto a dedicated PC. Data was aggregated monthly and the resulting analysis was apparently used to cut accidents by 30 per cent. Mapping can't take all the credit, as serious-accident rates have dropped across the UK thanks to better training, better roads and better vehicles, but London has an enviable record with only 159 road deaths in London during 2011.

These days the Metropolitan Police takes responsibility for gathering, and analysing, the data, as they already have records of every serious accident.

To reduce that number further a 70-point plan was published last November (pdf, long and largely obvious) including such options as removing roadside railings - which makes drivers nervous of hitting pedestrians - and getting cycle shops to hand out safety leaflets.

Establishing what methods are needed, and where they do - or don't - cut accident death rates still needs GIS at the back office level, though, which is where GGP Systems comes in. ®