To improve road safety in Hyderabad with the use of technology, the Government of Telangana, along with WRI India Ross Center, has announced the launch of a novel program, the Smart Streets Lab Telangana on Thursday (10 August). The Lab will pilot innovative road-safety and women safety solutions and leverage new developments in technology and IT to transform the streets of Hyderabad.
Motorization is growing at a fast pace in India today, leading to a rapid expansion in road networks in the recent years. This has, in turn, caused serious impacts on road safety levels, according to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MoRTH) data. The data indicates that from 2014 to 2015, the total number of road crashes in India increased by 2.5 percent from 4,89,400 to 5,01,423. Fatalities due to road crashes also increased by 4.6 percent from 1,39,671 to 1,46,133, in this time. Road crash injuries rose by 1.4 percent. While data from 2016 has not been analyzed yet, the numbers are only rising.
India already has the second largest road network in the world, with the total number of vehicles expected to increase to 500-600 million by 2030. WRI research suggests that safer cities tend to be ones with extensive mass transport, good conditions for walking and cycling, and fewer cars on the road driving short distances at safer speeds. Civic authorities can transform roads into ‘smart streets’ by catering to the mobility needs of different users such as the differently abled, the elderly, children and women, and not just vehicles.
Through the Smart Streets Lab, Telangana endeavors to source technological interventions – from interconnected and inter-networking smart devices (also known as Internet of Things) to product innovation that can make the streets truly secure, equitable and easy-to-navigate for citizens of Hyderabad.
An online challenge (www.wricitieshub.org/smartstreetslab) seeking applications for projects designed to make Hyderabad’s streets ‘smart’, has been announced. The challenge will invite innovations that are infrastructure-independent, easy to integrate into the existing systems, aid policy implementation, are affordable and create value for the entire ecosystem, till 1 September 2017. It is open to projects led by civil society, entrepreneurs, technology companies, consortiums and partnerships.
In September, about 10 shortlisted projects will undergo an intensive boot camp – a training aimed at helping the innovators transition from a prototype stage to a revenue generation stage. DLABS the incubation and acceleration arm of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Bosch and WRI India will train the innovators on the pilot design and implementation. From October to December, the Lab will support the launch and operationalization of a few pilots in the city.
Explaining the idea behind the Lab, Jyot Chadha, Director of Urban Innovation, WRI India Ross Center, said, “The Smart Streets Lab is a citizen’s workshop of sorts it attempts to offer the road users a platform, where they can devise tech-based projects that will help the city authorities build safer streets. Cross stakeholder collaborations, bringing together citizens, start-ups, corporates and governments is important to improve road safety in a city like Hyderabad, which is among the most populous urban agglomeration in India.”
Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Information Technology, Government of Telangana, added, “With a large number of vehicles on the streets, Hyderabad sees massive traffic congestion every day. Considering the city is an IT hub, there is a great potential in leveraging the technological advancement to find road safety solutions. Such platforms will go a long way in building smarter and efficient cities.”
Aruna Reddy, Head of Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at ISB, says, “We are excited to bring our research expertise and the experience of working with the local ecosystem to support entrepreneurs and innovations that can help make our cities more dynamic, safe and livable.”