Data First: Reflections of the Municipality of the City of Mendoza in a study on road safety
Mendoza City's Luciano Pedro Santoni, a participant in the Open Data Policy Lab's City Incubator Program, describes his work on a new platform to better file traffic accident reports and collect info.
Posted on 23rd of May 2022 by Luciano Pedro Santoni
This piece is a guest blog produced as part of the Open Data Policy Lab's City Incubator program, which helped public intrapreneurs within cities around the world develop their data innovation ideas into reality by providing dedicated support across a six-month period. . In this piece, the Mendoza City's Luciano Pedro Santoni discusses some major insights from his work on building a system that modernizes teh filing of traffic accident reports.
A decade after the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Decade of Action for Road Safety, an average of 8 traffic accidents still occur daily in the city of Mendoza. Though mobility restrictions established by the government during the pandemic considerably reduced these numbers, new openings have led to increases close to pre-pandemic levels. Official figures show a higher risk of being killed as a motorcyclist and a significant number of young people involved in road crashes. In addition, there is a significant number of pedestrians and cyclists affected by this situation (ANSV, 2022).
The Department of Spatial Data Infrastructure of the Municipality of the City of Mendoza has devised a new system that modernizes the filing of traffic accident reports and improves the collection of information. This improves on a previous system where statistics were first compiled on paper and uploaded to the system, without any systematization or processing that would allow advanced analysis. The provincial Ministry of Security would only record the accidents where there were fatalities. This limited capture of data at the time of a road event prevented a complete perspective of the problem.
This new system developed by the SDI Department seeks to generate a significant impact from the first link in the data chain, from its collection. It will make it possible to understand the spatial behavior patterns of drivers and identify areas with the highest concentration of accidents. Better quality and more detailed information will contribute to the development of specific public policies to improve road safety in the municipality.
The path to data-driven decision making
Simply put, good decision-making is the result of a process that seeks to resolve a conflict through a concrete action. It seeks to address the problems that afflict the day-to-day lives of citizens, especially via public administration.
With this approach, data becomes an opportunity that must be seized. Understanding the weight of information needed to carry out public policies can improve the quality of life of the inhabitants is the turning point to achieve greater goals.
Starting point: the importance of data collection
This aspect is considered a precondition for obtaining knowledge. Data are concepts that express an abstraction of the real world, of the sensory, i.e. they can be perceived directly or indirectly.
Data collection has to do with the concept of measurement, which makes it possible to analyze the territorial reality from different perspectives.
In our case, we developed an intelligent form that serves as a real-time survey of traffic accidents in the city of Mendoza. Once the survey is completed, an automatic process notifies the authorities by e-mail of the uploading of a new record and generates a report that allows streamlining other internal administrative procedures.
Uploading and notification of traffic accident reports
Analyze data to know the reality
The information collected during the inspection of traffic accidents is stored in our database and made available to the Accidentology Department. Whether in statistical or spatial form, the data is processed, analyzed and enhanced to show the most significant characteristics of the problem studied. This, in short, is to bring facts and reality closer to decision-makers.
The information is presented spatially and temporally through cartographic displays and operation dashboards. Among the disaggregated variables, it is also possible to have data on participants, vehicle damage, environmental conditions, witnesses, passengers and injured persons.
Applications that allow the analysis of information
With this, the authorities of the Traffic Department can act effectively through different actions and mechanisms to ensure the proper functioning of traffic circulation, reducing risk factors and preventing traffic accidents on public roads.
Opening the way: sharing information
Providing people with knowledge is a fundamental instance of public management to make territorial policy effective. Access to information enables the community to demand accountability from its government and constitutes a necessary basis for informed debate on these actions. These practices may give rise to proposals with new approaches that had not been considered by officials.
In its last stage, the project proposes to make the information resulting from this process available openly, free of charge and without compromising people's personal data. In this case, we are talking about websites that allow the circulation and redistribution of the data generated. The City of Mendoza has two platforms that serve this purpose: an Open Data Portal and a Cartographic Portal.
It is a means to improve knowledge of government operations, strengthen accountability and improve citizenship.
Thinking of innovative alternatives is the best strategy to transform reality. Although it was proposed to work with the road problems of the municipality of the City of Mendoza, we found an underlying problem, totally different, which must be addressed: the search for solutions without taking into account a reality marked by the lack of systematized and quality data.
To this end, establishing priorities and knowing the processes leads us to the need, in the first instance, to strengthen our relationship with the data and its collection. Prioritizing this aspect is fundamental to arrive in better conditions to other decision instances where the focus is placed on road accidents and their effects.
Projects are thought, designed and built over time. Objectives and strategies change, as do approaches and deadlines. The important thing is to keep working to chart the right path forward.
- Agencia Nacional de Seguridad Vial (2022). Informe de Siniestralidad Vial Fatal. Año 2021. Datos parciales y preliminares. Dirección de Estadística Vial. Dirección Nacional de Observatorio Vial.