Open City

The Uses of Collision Data

By Nik Garkusha
Published April 06, 2011

This morning's tragic news about a pedestrian killed in a collision on Britannia Road raises a question about data on similar collisions and accidents in the region.

According to Halton Regional Police Service collisions statistics, there were nearly 7,000 property damage collisions in 2009, with 1,178 injury collisions. What if there was a way to analyze this data?

Are there any areas across Halton where such collisions occur more frequently? Are there any "patterns" in the data or correlation with factors such as availability of street lights, sidewalks, crosswalks at intersections, etc. Can we gain any insights into areas that are more likely to be dangerous for pedestrians?

The answers could be found if the historic collision data gathered by police were made available as Open Data. Our friends at Open Hamilton were able to get their hands on Hamilton's raw pedestrian accident data, which can be used to derive various insights, particularly when "mashed up" with other data.

A map below, for example, mashes-up geocoded pedestrian accident data with geocoded crossing guard data:

Pedestrian Accident / Crossing Guard data Google Maps mashup
Pedestrian Accident / Crossing Guard data Google Maps mashup

There are many ways to derive insights from such data, as long as it carries at a minimum some useful information such as date, time, intersection, distance from intersection and direction (if it occurred between two streets for example), vehicles and/or pedestrians involved and an indication of a severity of an accident.

This type of data, if made public, is not just for curiosity's sake, but can help potentially prevent accidents and collisions through better knowledge of when such incidents are more likely to occur.

Think about analyses like collisions by time of day (day, dusk, night, etc), combined with historic weather data - collisions by weather conditions (and visibility), or as simple as heat-maps of the most dangerous areas or "roads to avoid walking on".

The possibilities are endless, we just need the data to work with. I have sent my request for the data to Halton Regional Police Service: fingers crossed.

this was first posted on OpenHalton

Nik Garkusha is an open data and open source geek, technology evangelist and consultant. He is the founder of OpenHalton.ca. He is also the Open Source Strategy Lead at Microsoft (Port25.ca).

10 Comments

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted April 06, 2011 at 09:54:51

The best reason for this to all be public is that a large amount of accidents aren't reported, especially when involving bikes or pedestrians and little damage to the car in question.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 15:31:55 in reply to Comment 61897

Where do you get the idea that " ...large amount of accidents aren't reported, especially when involving bikes or pedestrians and little damage to the car in question."

Maybe it is true maybe not, I would like to know on what you base the argument.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted April 06, 2011 at 19:09:33 in reply to Comment 61906

I'm a cyclist, most of my friends are cyclists and accidents are a common topic of conversation.

In nearly every case I hear about where a car hits a bike, they flee the scene before anyone can get the licence plate. And few of the cyclists bother to report it, since there isn't much to report.

With car-on-car accidents, particularly with less damage, it's pretty common to hear drivers agree "not to get insurance involved" (which of course also means not reporting it), for fear that one's rates will go up.

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By Undustrial Overload (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 11:50:15

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 06, 2011 at 14:27:54

Speaking of which, another one:

http://www.thespec.com/news/crime/articl...

Bike on the road, folks.

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By sanitation (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 15:00:54

"By Undustrial Overload (anonymous)"above-- I see RTH has yet another stifler of thought. There are toilets for people to evacuate in--except that kind of refuse is useful. We can see hoe the Spec's so-called cartoonist has admirers

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By Undustrial Overload (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 16:57:28

Who you calling a hoe?

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By sanitation (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 19:19:37

how, not hoe--misprint

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 12:11:17 in reply to Comment 61916

YOU

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By Undustrial Overload (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 21:20:43

Who you calling a how?

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