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The Role Of Location Intelligence For Safer Driving With Nikhil Kumar Country Head, HERE Technologies

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s data, a total of 4,37,396 road accidents were recorded in India in 2019. There are several reasons for these accidents and one of them is poorly maintained roads. Siddharth Shankar from BWBusinessworld talks to Mr. Nikhil Kumar, Country Head, India, HERE Technologies about the importance of Location-based intelligence for safer driving

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s data, a total of 4,37,396 road accidents were recorded in India in 2019. There are several reasons for these accidents and one of them is poorly maintained roads. Sometimes it becomes difficult for drives to determine the depth of small puddles due to waterlogging on the roads, potholes, and unmarked speed breakers among other things. As a result, people are constantly looking for solutions to help make driving a safer experience and reduce risks due to the aforementioned issues. HERE Technologies and INTENTS MOBI have partnered to develop a technology solution – Intents Go – that will help address the rising road accidents and save thousands of lives that are lost due to speed breakers and potholes on Indian roads. We talk to Mr. Nikhil Kumar, Country Head, India, HERE Technologies about the importance of Location-based intelligence for safer driving and the collaboration with INTENTS MOBI. 

Excerpts 

Worldwide a growing number of road and traffic fatalities across are reported each year and that poses a huge concern on the safety of people’s lives. What is the role, HERE is playing in enhancing road safety conditions and navigation?

According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.35 million people die each year because of road traffic crashes, making it to the top 10 causes of death globally. Road safety, therefore, continues to be a major public safety challenge of modern societies. Thankfully, deploying location technologies, data and analytics have proven successful to counter this challenge across many countries. 

At HERE, we are committed to using location technology platform to enhance road safety by delivering targeted safety alert information to drivers (our customers and users) on slow or stationary vehicles, hazardous locations, road works, severe weather, and wide-moving traffic jams, with other information including speed advisories and messages with details of road conditions, unprotected accident areas and areas with reduced and solutions visibility. We have a robust suite of cutting edge, deep-tech connected vehicle products that address concerns ranging from traffic congestion to driver safety to helping companies manage their supply chain and fleet management operations effectively. Some of these include:

  • HERE Lanes, a digital representation of the global road network that enables a vehicle to position itself in a lane, while providing drivers with lane-level visual guidance. Leveraging Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, we help increase driver awareness and road safety.
  • HERE HD GNSS, our High Definition Global Navigation Satellite System, (HD GNSS) is a cloud-based solution that enables mass-market devices to achieve sub-meter accuracy across the globe. Among other things, if, for example, a driver is unfamiliar with the route, it shows the correct lane and path to navigate to the destination faster.
  • Public Transit and Intermodal APIs provide precise pedestrian instructions that account for features such as stairways, sidewalks, crosswalks, bridges, tunnels, elevators, and escalators. On the other hand, The Intermodal Routing API, on the other hand, combines consolidated public transit with other modes of transport, such as a private cars, bike, taxi, or ride-sharing services, to navigate more efficiently between a given pair of locations. It also offers parking information within proximity of transit stops.

What does your partnership with Intents Mobi entail and how are you planning to address the challenges for Indian roads? 

We have partnered with Intents Mobi, a technology-driven company focused on providing information as a service to all industry segments that are related to transportation and commute to develop a mobile solution. The partnership is to help save lives that are lost due to speed breakers and potholes on roads. We will be powering Intents Mobi’s newly launched application Intents Go, a fully functional navigation app to find out road surface conditions and alert users as they drive and has the added feature of alerting users of potholes, speed breakers, waterlogging, landslides, and much more. Intents Mobi will be also offering Real-Time Traffic data that identifies traffic congestion areas and its reasons by delivering high-quality flow and incident content every minute.

Is this partnership restricted to India?

Yes, this is available to Indian users and customers currently.

What is the technology platform behind Intents Go app and what kind of data is being used for the app? What is your coverage?

One of the most important differentiators of Intents Go as an app is that it provides an additional layer to navigation and mobility, on our native existing HereWeGo app, that uses activity detection to determine if a user is driving and can alert users even in the background. Thus, we do not compete with any navigation technology directly. Additionally, the Intents Go app uses Here’s software development kit (SDK) features such as Routing, Traffic Layer, Places, and Geocoding Services.

What are some of the security concerns and implications arising out of the data collected from vehicle sensors, phones, and road cameras?

In a country like India with vast geography, linguistic diversity and the restricted use of lidar are often the biggest challenges in data collection and sharing. Another key challenge is data privacy regulation fraught with complexities. With the onslaught of new and emerging technologies, data safety remains a heated subject with concerns around privacy erosion and data usage by these new innovations. In order to address these concerns, it is important for government, organizations, and technology players to collaborate together and help inform people’s understanding of privacy, how their data is being used so that they can make informed choices, regarding their data and to protect it from potential mischief-makers. 

HERE is one of the founding partners of the ‘Data for Road Safety’ initiative in Europe. Could you elaborate on that? Are you planning to remodel something similar in India? 

‘Data for Road Safety’ is a recent initiative in Europe by a consortium of carmakers, road operators, and technology providers, including us, to share safety-related data gathered from vehicles and road infrastructure.

HERE is one of the 11 founding partners of the project, working alongside the likes of Ford, Volvo, BMW, and Daimler. With our deep expertise in building services from vehicle sensor data, we will be playing the role of data aggregator while exploring ways in which we can get involved as a service provider too. For the longest time, automobile players have been doing this. However, with this collaboration, our hope is that with our HERE location platform, we can help scale shared data services, where eventually, drivers of any brand of car can benefit from the experiences of others on the road.

Is HERE currently working with any automakers and road operators to adopt new technologies for road safety in India?

We are constantly looking to expand our association with automakers and spatial technology partners to drive the country’s broader adoption of smart mobility solutions. We are also engaging with our existing partners to add a significant volume of GPS probe data to HERE’s existing traffic capabilities in the country, with improved quality and coverage of traffic maps, with high-end precision.

Intelligent mobility solutions enabled by geo-aware data can help identify and solve these challenges, especially prevalent in the transport & logistics sector, on-demand services, and public sector organizations. With more probe points, HERE will be able to deliver better coverage and quality traffic information, thus, providing a better navigation experience and a reduced ETA for the customers on the roads.

Partnerships help us offer geo-aware data that lets companies across the transport & logistics sector, on-demand services, and the public sector to address various road safety challenges.

How do you fare viz-a-viz Google maps and MapMyIndia, which is used on a wider scale for navigation in India?

Our business model is to offer our clients the best location services. We do not finance ourselves through advertising and as a company who has been operating in the location domain for 30+ years across 200 countries, we are confident in what we do not to mention we have been independently rated as the world’s number one provider of location intelligence (Counterpoint research, OVUM).

What are some of the emerging technologies/trends that can drive smart and safe mobility?  

When it comes to road safety, we often focus on vehicle telematics, navigation apps, ride-hailing services, etc. But one of the most overlooked aspects is that of the road itself, as a part of the modern transportation system. In the coming few years, we’ll see an array of smart road innovations via communication, lighting, and power transmission technologies, that will impact road safety, ultimately enhancing the overall driving experience.

Another important aspect is that of lane guidance in road safety. By making use of solutions like HERE Lanes, which makes use of location intelligence to enhance a vehicle’s sensors, users can ensure the vehicle stays on the right lane. For lane guidance, we need to adopt technologies like HD GNSS positioning to help with lane-level navigation.

These smart road technologies can leverage the power of IoT devices, combining physical infrastructures such as sensors, and solar panels with software infrastructure like AI and big data. Some of these examples could be seen through solar-powered roadways, or roadways fitted with smart features, including sensors that monitor and report changing road conditions, and WiFi transmitters that provide broadband services to vehicles, homes, and businesses.

What does the future hold for HERE India?

India is a key market for HERE and this reflects well in our country operations, with a vast footprint in India, with over 4000 employees and has a breadth of strong, technically skilled software professionals, operating out of the engineering teams in Mumbai, leading the automation efforts and creating products for a global audience locally. Our own experience has shown that if one can crack the code in India, one can do it anywhere, creating world-class products and solutions. Therefore, India continues to be a key market for HERE in APAC and in driving our success story globally.   

In terms of business focus areas, we will continue supporting businesses and governments in their digital transformation, which is also key to adapting to the COVID-19 world. This includes supporting: 

  • Trucking and logistics 
  • Supply chain and fleet management
  • Smart cities, transportation, and urban mobility 



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