Smart Crosswalks Come To Finland

The City of Tampere in Finland and Tieto – a Nordic IT services and software company – are conducting a pilot project to test an illuminated crosswalk sign. The lamp-post type sign is equipped with smart sensors which can detect an approaching pedestrian. Using advanced AI, IoT and V2X communications, the system then starts to flash for a certain time to make any approaching drivers aware of the pedestrian. This pilot project is part of the Smart Tampere development program.

The primary purpose of the flashing crosswalk sign is to help motorists spot a pedestrian entering the crosswalk more easily in the dark. The traffic sign works with a twilight switch and sensors. City authorities are seeking resident feedback about the new technology and have published an online survey on the municipal website for participants to complete. Motorists are asked to evaluate whether the flashing of a crosswalk sign helps in detecting a pedestrian; and, pedestrians are asked whether motorists let them cross the crosswalk more often when illuminated crosswalk signs are in use than before. Parents are being encouraged to interview their children and answer the survey on their behalf as well.

“We had identified the most common types of accidents between vehicles and pedestrians. Using them, we built an algorithm that can predict the movement of vehicles and pedestrians on the street,” says Pekka Stenman, Traffic Engineer, City of Tampere. “The new solution has many potential uses in addition to boosting traffic safety. We already receive information about vehicle traffic, but not very much about pedestrian traffic. We want to see how people move, and perhaps construct heat maps of Tampere’s pedestrian flows to assist with traffic planning. Another interesting opportunity is introducing more intelligence to traffic lights by identifying and predicting people’s flows.”

It’s hoped that, in the future, the pedestrian alert could be sent directly to vehicles. Furthermore, the system could also become a building block for a transport system using  autonomous vehicles.​