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Gridley Herald

Caltrans Awards Historic Contracts, Seeking to Improve Safety

May 15, 2024 11:22AM ● By Caltrans News Release

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Caltrans, in partnership with the California Department of Technology (CDT) and the Department of General Services (DGS), announced on May 9 historic contracts as California seeks to harness the power of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) to protect vulnerable road users and improve traffic flows throughout the state.

Deloitte Consulting, LLP and INRIX, Inc. were the selected vendors to investigate near misses of injuries/fatalities to identify risky areas and monitor interventions designed to increase safety of vulnerable road users. Read the full problem statement.

Accenture, LLP and Deloitte Consulting, LLP were the selected vendors to process and interpret complex data to improve traffic pattern analysis, address bottlenecks, and enhance overall traffic management. Read the full problem statement.

“With an average of 12 Californians dying on our roadways every day, we need to use every tool available to end the roadway crisis and reach our goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2050,” said California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin. “Today represents an important step in exploring how GenAI can help save lives. I applaud Governor Newsom and Secretary Tong for being at the forefront of testing how to responsibly harness this cutting-edge technology to help solve some of our most challenging transportation issues and improve the lives of all Californians.”

“Caltrans has historically been an early adopter of new technology and working with these GenAI companies is another example of our forward-thinking approach,” Caltrans Director Tony Tavares said. “We are excited and optimistic of the ideas and solutions these vendors are working on in terms of improving safety on the highways and limiting gridlock in our busiest corridors.”

The selected vendors will collaborate with Caltrans to test their technology in a controlled environment with publicly available data to determine if it can help find innovative solutions to two of the state’s most complex transportation challenges: roadway safety and traffic management.

The contracts are in response to an Executive Order by Governor Gavin Newsom tasking state agencies to study the development, use, and risks of GenAI and begin the procurement process to responsibly evaluate and deploy GenAI technology.

Caltrans and CDT will work with the vendors to evaluate the technology’s capability in virtual testing environment known as a “sandbox.” This sandbox will be overseen by CDT, ensuring the vendors will adhere to strict state policies and regulations regarding data governance, privacy and cybersecurity. Governor Newsom’s directive included that any adoption of GenAI will be based on ethical and responsible implementations.

California’s transportation network is the lifeline of its diverse economy and vibrant communities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of fatal and serious injury collisions in California, especially those involving vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists and highway workers, increased annually from 2011-2019. With nearly 36 million registered vehicles on California roads, Caltrans also faces a serious challenge in effectively analyzing available data to gain reliable insights on traffic patterns to address bottlenecks and improve overall traffic management on more than 50,000 miles of highway and freeway lanes.

One of the challenges is the volume of data generated from a wide range of sources, including traffic sensors, cameras, third party data streams, photos, and incident reports.

With a clear vision of the potential benefits and risks of GenAI, Caltrans seeks to integrate this technology to streamline data collection to enhance roadway safety, alleviate traffic congestion for all motorists, and strengthen strategic decision-making.

Caltrans will also study the technology’s potential to help navigate the evolving landscape of transportation demands, including the impacts of climate change and major events that can disrupt traffic patterns.

With a commitment to unlocking essential traffic data, Caltrans believes GenAI can be a valuable tool in helping build a transportation system that not only thrives on data but serves the ever-evolving needs of all Californians.