Utilising Geographic Information System in Road Safety & Emergency Service Management
By: Sandesh Nayak
Emergencies such as road accidents are among the most important causes of fatalities, especially in developing countries. Emergency response time and first aid are crucial factors in each accident’s rescue action. Improved medical response and associated technology are important contributors in decreasing the severity of long-term injuries. The chance of survival for accident victims increases by providing appropriate first aid in traffic accidents. Besides first aid equipment, the location of emergency services and their distance to traffic accidents are among the most influential parameters in emergency response time.
A case in point is the use of the Geographic Information System (GIS) to reduce fatalities in road accidents in Rajasthan. The Transport Department, Government of Rajasthan, reported 21,743 road accidents in 2018, of which 10,444 people died. The National Highways constitute about 3.8 percent of the total road network of Rajasthan, but they account for 30.9% of total road accidents and 37.5% of the total number of deaths. Fatalities on regional roads are much lower compared to national roads; the fatality criterion of road safety is not enough. Traffic junctions are points of conflict and hence are prone to road accidents. About 24 percent of total accidents took place on road junctions or crossings itself during the calendar year 2018. Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan, has the most significant share of 12.32% in fatalities.
It is imperative from the above figures that with a growing number of vehicles and the development of roads, the number of accidents and fatalities have also increased. Hence, more advanced solutions are needed to control road accidents and deaths.
GIS has proved to be a handy tool in locating emergency services that assist users in making their decision. As time is considered to be one of the most critical factors in accident emergency services, if emergency services can be located according to accidents black spots, then it will help in decreasing response time in traffic accidents and will improve the survival chances of victims.
To ensure a better understanding of road factors, GIS tools help with the acquisition of road parameter data. Their other role is helping with a clear and effective presentation and communication of risk and risk ranking. In the event of an emergency, the GIS-based application should be able to push alerts (SOS) to emergency service vehicles through Command Control Centers such as Abhay Command Control Center, along with suggesting the fastest route to the emergency service vehicle.
GIS can be used for route planning; route planning is an essential application within transportation. Hurdles on routes can lead to unnecessary delays and losses. It is in favor of all businesses and people to know in advance which route is the best to follow. This knowledge can help in saving time and essentially gaining the best cost/benefit ratio.
GIS can help as a powerful decision-making tool for improving road safety. Data intelligence compiled from GIS-based applications can help in quick and effective decision-making to save lives. The data and insights can be of great use to Navigation service providers in improving their service and to the government in the development and maintenance of roads to improve road safety.
As the accident-related data is majorly available with the government departments, the departments can share/monetize this dataset for a larger good. Identification of blackspots through the accidents/ crash data can provide valuable insights to GIS-based navigation service providers like Google, HERE, MapMyIndia, etc. Their navigation solutions are being used on mobile phones as well as in in-vehicle infotainment solutions. The data can be shared on regular cycles through paid / free-to-use API/ services to the private players, who may then distribute the same to the larger public to improve road safety. The data can include the following information that can be updated on regular cycles for monetization as well as for improving safety-related driver assistance solutions:
- Indication of an accident-prone area/ zones, roads, junctions, etc.
- Suggested and approved speed limit information for every road
- Type of road as well as the condition of the road during seasons
- Alerts for traffic signs and signals
GIS in road development planning can help to visualize the present status of road infrastructure and to plan new initiatives and projects which need to be undertaken to improve safety on roads. With the help of GIS, the government can benefit from strategizing and prioritizing investments in road development and maintenance activities. The data generated through GIS applications by state governments can be shared with bodies like the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for the planning, development, and maintenance of National Highways.
The data insights generated through the GIS application are of great importance to the Public Works Department (PWD) for the construction and maintenance of roads. In a similar way, the application can also be used by agencies like Jaipur Development Authority, Jodhpur Development Authority, etc. for state development. The crash data gathered by GIS-based application can provide insights for decision making in the prevention of accidents by taking corrective steps.
The writer is IAS, Commissioner IT & C & Managing Director-RISL, Government of Rajasthan