Enhancing Citizen Safety with Edge Computing in PLEDGER


August Betzler, i2CAT Research Foundation

September 11 2020

While the number of traffic accidents resulting in serious injuries or deaths has been decreasing over the last years in Europe, the number of accidents that involve vulnerable road users (VRUs) in cities is stalling or has even increased[1]. In many cities, the road infrastructure is not laid out to support an increasing number of VRUs, such as bicycles or new types of transportation, such as electric scooters. Also, regulations of the mobility of bikes and scooters are often missing or not correctly applied. As a result, they are often involved in traffic accidents.

The European Commission has released a new European Mobility Package and Vision Zero[2], with the goal of a reduction of 50% in fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 and a reduction to 0% by 2050. While there is a general decrease of road victims in Europe, the number of VRU victims has a great share and is still high, even tending to increase in cities.

In Barcelona, one of the priorities for the municipal government is to make the city a friendlier, safer and more sustainable place for pedestrians. In order to achieve safer mobility, it is necessary to protect the most vulnerable groups that travel around urban areas. Protecting pedestrians means improving safety for everyone.

As such, one of the project’s use cases proposes the use of infrastructure enhancements introduced with the Pledger platform to increase the safety for said VRUs. By deploying Pledger on top of a city-wide infrastructure, novel risk avoidance mechanisms can be validated for pedestrians, cyclists or users of electric scooters: using radio equipment, networking infrastructure, edge compute nodes and dedicated applications – all controlled by Pledger – situations of risks for VRUs can be detected and measures can be taken to avoid said risks. The versatile, yet adaptive use of edge computing is key to implement the required services.

Pledger allows for services to be placed wherever the service provider needs to in order to achieve the desired QoS for their applications. In a traditional approach, virtualized services are deployed in the cloud, using public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services[3] (AWS) or Microsoft Azure[4]. However, with the introduction of 5G architectures and the evolution of standards and specifications, the improvements, but also the necessity of the use of edge computing as means to introduce novel applications into the ICT market and to service a large variety of verticals have become evident. The benefits of deploying services on dedicated edge compute nodes that are close to the radio access networks are many; some of the key improvements are smaller response times, to have reserved compute resources that provide optimal performance for end-users and the reduction of overall network traffic, as data is processed close to the users. In this context, Pledger will leverage edge computing to optimize data capture for its further analysis at the edge and provide effective information to execute real-time decisions.

For the deployment of a service that aims to improve the safety of VRUs, said benefits are necessary to assure high performance and provide the desired safety: critical situations in which pedestrians and vehicles can crash can occur within a few seconds, requiring fast processing of the situation and immediate notification to alert VRUs. As such, the infrastructure in Barcelona will be extended by i2CAT and IMI with radio and edge computing capacities in the area of the use case deployment, offering dedicated, close-to-the-user resources to deploy the VRU safety use case.

Using this infrastructure, the Pledger platform will provide the tools to configure the infrastructure and deploy the services in such a way that the requirements of the use case can be met, delivering the required compute resources and radio resources to run the services and to provide connectivity with end users. Further, SLA control and QoS check mechanisms will be put in place to enable the monitoring of performance and use of the edge infrastructure to assure the correct operation of the services at all times.

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