Can tens of thousands of lives be saved every year in India?

India has lost around a million citizens to road accidents in the last decade. Last year my uncle was one of them. Together with several companies, research institutes and authorities across Sweden and India, Ericsson is working to reduce this number through a new partnership called SITIS. Find out how below.

Truck on the Indian road

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Research leader 5G industry collaborations

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“It’s the early evening of a hot day and life is bubbling in Mumbai. It’s the delightful start of a dreadful evening, for today an elderly uncle will be killed by a happy young man. While the elderly man travels in his taxi, a young driver quickly approaches in his truck. He would not hurt a fly, yet he will soon kill a man.”

The story above, which I will continue below, is about my uncle. Last year, he became one of the more than 148 000 people killed in traffic accidents in India through the year. Each and every victim was someone’s father, mother, daughter, son or uncle. So too are the drivers.

According to the World Health Organization, millions more became victims to injury or disability and require long-term care. In fact, road fatalities are the leading cause of death among young persons in the region. Road safety incidents also cost upwards of 3% of GDP in India.

Joining forces to save lives      

As an Indian and a Swede, I am proud that Ericsson is taking an active role in improving traffic safety in India through a new initiative with both Swedish and Indian governments, in addition to several other authorities, companies and research institutes.

The initiative, called the Swedish Indian Transport Innovation and Safety Partnership (SITIS), comprises companies such as Volvo Group, Autoliv, SAAB, Manipal Hospitals, and Altair; research institutes such as Chalmers, RISE, IIT-TRIPP and IISC; and authorities such as VTI, ARAI, Swedish Administration Authority, and Niti Aayog.

A roadmap for SITIS

Today, through SITIS, we will begin to use advanced technologies in the fields of Big Data, AI, Deep Learning to create broad and scalable data analytics assets. The overall domain which SITIS will address is Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS). This work includes establishing testbeds and capacity to develop, test and deploy solutions, all while using the latest technologies in connectivity. With our partners, we have identified three different workstreams which will work in tandem to form sustainable solutions:

  • Road Safety 
    The work undertaken here will deeply study the traffic safety in India, identify and recommend policy and technology priorities.
  • Data
    This workstream will utilize the capabilities of AI and Big data and consolidate and connect important existing sources, as well as generate new data. 
  • Safe and secure connected transport
    The important work in this stream to will be design important digital infrastructure as required for connected safety. 

Ericsson is already trialling connected vehicles to improve safety on Australian roads


Women, young adults and the poor are most affected

By 2030, traffic deaths are expected to account for 1.25 million deaths across the world each year according to the World Health Organization. This will make it the seventh most common cause for fatalities. Unfortunately, women and those from poorer communities have been identified as those most likely to make up these statistics. Also vulnerable are those between the ages of 15-19 year, according to the same research.

Apart from the suffering itself, traffic safety can reduce a major cost in society. The same research estimates this amount to be 500 BUSD every year. Consequently, traffic safety is one of the world’s biggest challenges to address and it is included in several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the most obvious being SDG target 3.6: by 2020, to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.  

New technology paradigms offer hope

New technology paradigms of connectivity, electromobility, automation, digitization and AI offer us hope in helping to prevent further tragic loss of life on the roads. By advancing and deploying within these technology paradigms, we believe that countries can move forward in implementing effective technology and system-level measures to improve traffic safety.

Here at Ericsson, we have already been trialing these technologies across this context for more than ten years. For example, our connected vehicle efforts and many research projects and cooperations like Drive Sweden, 5G Car, 5GCroCo, ConVeX, 5G NetMobil, 5G Connected Mobility, and NordicWay, are all making an impact in strengthening traffic safety one way or another.

Connected vehicle technology can offer benefits to both people and businesses

What next?

The SITIS project is expected to commence in Spring 2020 and the first visible outcome will be focusing on developing safe and secure intercity transport corridors over a yet-to-be-chosen stretch in India.

Even if we cannot save the majority of the estimated 148 000 road fatalities this year in India, hopefully together we can help to achieve India’s goal of drastically reducing road fatalities over the next decade, avoiding many tragic endings as was the case with my uncle and the many other victims.

SITIS partnership members

Members of the new partnership include Volvo Group, Autoliv, SAAB, Manipal Hospitals, Altair, Chalmers University, RISE, IIT-TRIPP, IISC, VTI, ARAI, Swedish Administration Authority, and Niti Aayog.

In memory of the many victims of traffic accidents

Going back to my poor uncle, I am optimistic that initiatives such as SITIS can help to put a stop to the unnecessary suffering which both he and many others have experienced.

“The young man who is going to kill starts up his beautifully painted truck, a truck with no dents. The hospital watchmen wave a taxi for the smartly dressed elderly uncle, his belongings neatly packed in a small suitcase for a much-anticipated homecoming. As the taxi leaves the hospital the man thinks about his dear blind wife and how good it will be to come home to her and to his soft bed, for he does not know that he has a few minutes left to live and that his bed will remain empty and soft, tonight and forever more.

For such is life that a minute before a merry man kills, he is still happy and a minute before his friend is screaming of shock and terror, he is still laughing and joking. The same minute, an elderly man can comfortably be sitting and dreaming of his dear blind wife.

Afterwards everything is too late. Afterwards a man climbs down from a truck and stumbles to his knees, for anxiety has created a hole inside of him. Afterwards an elderly man lies in the backseat of a car. For it’s not true that time heals all wounds. It will not heal the wounds of an elderly man who has passed. Time will not heal the sorrow of his blind wife nor the anxiety of the once happy man who killed him. Someone who has killed does not happily travel home to his fiancée. Someone who has killed travels slowly home under silence next to a friend wishing for the rest of his life that he could relive and change that one moment when everything was ruined. But such is life that afterwards everything is too late for a man who has killed.”

Read more

Read more about the future of connected vehicles.

What lies ahead on the road to connected road safety? Learn more in our post about cellular vehicle-to-anything.

Read our earlier press release about the new SITIS partnership.

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