Together with the Province of Overijssel and DesignLab, students from the University of Twente use large data sets to get a better picture of regional issues. One of the themes in this data-driven project focuses on the possible causes of roe-deer vehicle collisions in the province. Earlier this month, the team of students presented what they had learned from their six-week data sprint.
The Overijssel provincial authority has a great deal of data available. For instance, it was already known that about 1,000 roe-deer vehicle collisions occur in Overijssel every year, and that this number has increased slightly over the past few years. The students analysed the provincial authority’s datasets and presented the results in the form of various data visualisations.
The project was supervised and performed by DesignLab, which uses design to forge creative connections between science and society. Maya van den Berg (the project manager at DesignLab) says that DesignLab recruits mixed student teams to tackle each individual theme in this data-driven cooperative venture with the Province of Overijssel. “Supervised by our research network, these teams work in accordance with the principles of ‘design thinking’. This involves exploring the issue (EXPLORE), looking at potential solutions (IDEATE), and working out the details (CONCEPTUALISE). Halfway through the data sprint, the first few steps were discussed with the provincial authorities, and then revised (REFRAME).”
On 6 November, the data sprint concluded with a final presentation at the Overijssel provincial government building, in the presence of staff of the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland. The students presented a number of insights, based on the data provided:
- Collisions mainly occur around sunset, which coincides with the evening rush hour in the winter, but not in the summer
- Eighty percent of traffic movements take place during the day, yet the vast majority of collisions coincide with the remaining 20% of traffic movements, at dusk
- Most of these collisions occur on cool, misty spring days, when visibility is less than 500 metres
- Collisions occur mainly on roads with an average traffic intensity (one car every 11 seconds, on average)
- Most collisions occur at a number of hotspots in the province. These hotspots do tend to shift their position over the years.
The staff of the provincial authority indicated that they were very satisfied with the students’ conclusions and recommendations. “It’s astonishing how much you can learn by combining and analysing various data sources. In terms of content, this has clarified a number of suspicions and has identified various starting points for further exploration”, says Remko Wicherson, coordinator of the Province of Overijssel’s ID-Lab. Various suggestions were put forward concerning the current approach to dynamic road signs. “This has also triggered a number of follow-up questions. For instance, how is the number of collisions related to population size, or to wildlife warning systems and other measures to guarantee road safety?” says Mr Wicherson.
Wildlife and drones
In a continuation of their cooperative activities, the Overijssel provincial authority and DesignLab will be using drones to monitor wild animals. A new student team is being recruited for this purpose. DesignLab is also on the look-out for additional researchers who have experience in this area. Any researchers who would like to get involved are asked to report to the project manager.