Galileo provides boost to smart transport systems

The Horizon 2020-funded GHOST project is bringing Galileo’s robust positioning capabilities to smart transport systems. 

All across Europe, the number of smart cities is multiplying. To tackle their growing needs and to guarantee efficient city planning and maintenance, many cities are engaged in massive investments in such key areas as street lighting, road maintenance, traffic and waste management. In parallel, public transportation is continuously evolving in terms of coverage, comfort and technology.

Within this context, the exploitation of Galileo and its integration with other sensors is key to developing concrete solutions for current and future smart city planning. Along these lines, the Horizon 2020-funded GHOST (Galileo Enhancement as Booster of the Smart Cities) project is designing, developing and validating an intelligent system for vehicles that equips existing public transport fleets with a Galileo-enabled camera and connects these vehicles to a web portal. The system automatically takes pictures of predefined points of interest (POI) based on the accurate position of the vehicle – provided by Galileo. All images are sent to a processing server capable of detecting such anomalies as potholes or a burnt-out street light. The system then uses the web portal to report these findings to the relevant authorities.

“At this point, GHOST is designed primarily for reporting street lighting anomalies and road deteriorations, monitoring public garbage collection and detecting double parking infractions or disabled parking spots occupied by unauthorised vehicles,” says Project Coordinator Claudia Maltoni. “In addition to these basic functions, we have also identified more advanced services, such as spotting bus-lane and congestion-charging-area violations, which will be implemented at a later date.”

A user-focused system

The GHOST system’s key differentiator is its use of Galileo positioning, which gives it the capability to take autonomous snapshots with an error range of 1 to 10 metres (depending on the size of the POI). In densely populated urban environments, such a level of service is only possible with the combined use of Galileo, inertial sensors and Kalman filters. The Kalman filter is an algorithm that uses a series of measurements observed over time, as opposed to a single one, in order to increase precision. 

The GHOST system’s key services:

  • reporting street lighting anomalies and road deteriorations
  • monitoring public garbage collection levels
  • detecting double parking infractions or disabled parking spaces occupied by unauthorised vehicles
  • monitoring timely collection of garbage.

Another unique feature is a free smartphone application that citizens can use to collect geo-localised snapshots. “Whenever an individual user sees an anomaly within a city’s infrastructure, all they have to do is snap a picture with their smartphone,” explains Maltoni. “This level of engagement not only enhances the overall system, but also empowers individual users to play a key role in urban upkeep.”  

Improving urban efficiency

By taking advantage of the many vehicle movements happening in cities every day, GHOST proposes a competitive way to improve the efficiency of monitoring a city’s operations and infrastructure. Once finalised, the system will enable faster detection of double parking or road deterioration and help reduce traffic, accidents and pollution.

“Thanks to our field tests and favourable lab results, we are already setting up the next phase of the project, with the aim of taking the system’s technology to the next level,” concludes Maltoni. “This includes providing real-time, onboard image processing so that the system can handle such dynamic scenarios as bus-lane infractions and congestion-charging enforcement.”

The project is currently working to bring GHOST technology to market. Coordinators are busy making key contacts with interested public administrations, garbage collection companies and traffic police departments. It is also working to ensure that the system complies with all European regulatory standards, such as those related to circulation or privacy.

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