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Smart City Mapping

What did Arity learn? Highlights from recent conferences

Arity · October 26, 2018 · 3 min read
Lauren Haynes and Aileen Comer take a moment to answer three quick questions about the latest conference they attended.

Last week Lauren Haynes from Arity’s Smart City team impressed the audience at the Illinois Traffic Engineering and Safety (TES) Conference in Champaign, Illinois. She was on stage showcasing the work we’ve done with the City of Chicago and talking through how to make streets smarter by leveraging driving data. Aileen Comer, also from our awesome Smart Cities team, accompanied her.  When they returned to Arity HQ, we grabbed a few minutes with them and got some key learnings and takeaways from the week.  

In one or two sentences – what was your biggest takeaway from TES? Why?  

Aileen Comer: I heard a lot about the “data explosion” phenomenon, but during my discussions with people at TES, I got the sense that a lot of the data has not been activated. This theme reminded me a lot about the Data Paradox that cities are facing, which my teammate Lauren wrote about recently 

Lauren Haynes: Distracted driving and how to mitigate the rising number of crashes and fatalities that it’s causing.  It has become a huge concern for the state and municipalities across Illinois, as well as nationally.  

Knowing what you heard/learned, do you feel that Arity Smart Cities Solution is filling a necessary gap?  

Lauren: Based on our driving behavior data, Arity Smart Cities Solutions offers a truly unique view and perspective into distracted driving and other driving behaviors that municipalities either cannot obtain, or they don’t have the financial and technical resources to acquire. The realm of traffic engineering and safety wants to solve some enormous challenges and they will need new data and new approaches to achieve their very ambitious goals. 

Aileen: Given that TES is a safety and road traffic focused conference, I think that our Allstate “heritage” in understanding risk and safety combined with Arity’s strengths in collecting and deriving insights on safety-related driving data could certainly address gaps in understanding what causes crashes and more importantly why.  

Q3: tell us something fun/interesting you did or learned?  

Lauren: There was lunch presentation was a history of transportation in Illinois – it was super fascinating! There are test loops of pavement throughout Illinois that the Army Corp of Engineers drove 1,000,000 miles on as they were developing pavement for highways.  

Aileen: Aside from my inaugural trip to the Champaign-Urbana institution Black Dog BBQ?

Something a traffic engineer said during a post-conference chat has really stuck with me. It was something along the lines of, “we’ve been trying to reduce crashes forever, and nothing we’re doing has made a remarkable impact on this effort. It’s time to do new and different things, look at different data sources and think about more innovative ways to solve this.” This comment spun the situation in a way I had never thought about it before, reminded me of the inherent super-complexity of safety goals, and got me excited about how Arity’s work with cities an example of something that is “new and different” that could help save lives.

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