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Virtual City Walkthroughs Help to Find Pedestrian Death Traps

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An urban intersection.

Researchers at Columbia Univiersity are using software they created to try to identify intersections in New York City that are extremely dangerous for pedestrians.

Credit: Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos

Columbia University researchers are engaged in a project that uses home-built software called CANVAS for the purpose of examining Google Street View images to better identify locations in New York City where pedestrians are at high risk.

Columbia epidemiologist Andrew Rundle's research team scoured 532 New York City intersections, in search of issues that could be contributing to pedestrian injuries or deaths. They compared their observations against a public database of pedestrians struck by cars, and learned such accidents were more likely at corners with billboards, bus stops, and pedestrian signals.

Rundle says the hope is these insights can be used to enhance street safety. For example, the city might try experimenting with changing where buses stop or how they unload passengers, to see if that reduces pedestrian injuries.

"Cities produce immense amounts of data, and for a long time, that data that was hard to tap into or locked up in corporate or government hard drives," Rundle notes. "Now, there's enormous potential for all of this information to be harnessed to help understand health conditions."

From New Scientist
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