The automobile is a modern invention that has expanded our horizons and enhanced business efficiency – for example, it serves as a crucial link for the logistics of modern e-commerce. Yet such convenience also comes with social costs in the form of accidents that destroy lives and properties. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.25 million people die in traffic accidents every year. In Hong Kong, 16,000 traffic accidents were recorded in 2016 and 129 of them were fatal . Such unfortunate events will inevitably inflict a long-term physical and psychological impact on drivers, pedestrians and the family members of those involved.
The Hong Kong Government spares no effort in promoting road safety in a bid to improve road safety awareness. New automobile safety technologies are also introduced from time to time to reduce accidents and injuries. However, these measures do not address the root of the problem. GreenSafety Technology Limited, an incubatee of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, strives to help develop a safer and more efficient road environment for the general public through developing hardware and software for collection and analysis of data.
GreenSafety’s founder and CEO Antonio Wong says that the 21st Century is an era of big data for the global community. As such, road safety initiatives should also be built on reliable scientific theories and facts, and they should be applied optimally to stop roads from being death traps.
Develop safe driving behaviour
Citing the Hong Kong Police’s Traffic Report 2016, the company points out that 84% of the traffic accidents were due to drivers’ mistakes. The top four major driver contributory factors, as listed in the report, are “driving inattentively”, “losing control of vehicle”, “driving too close to vehicle in front”, and “careless lane changing”. The underlying cause is human inattention or recklessness, possibly a result of bad habits developed over time. The right solution would then be to identify and correct the bad habits before accidents happen, and develop safe driving attitude and behaviour. This is the goal that GreenSafety seeks to achieve through its R&D work and the promotion of its technology.
Driving performance increasingly valued by companies
GreenSafety’s proprietary product Safematics Smart Safety System (or 4S solution) is a car fleet management system specifically designed for companies and organisations that operate sizeable car fleets. Traditional car fleet management solutions tend to focus on GPS tracking or deployment efficiency. The 4S solution on the other hand gauges how a driver performs, showing such information as whether a driver tends to tailgate, not indicate when changing lanes or drive at high speeds. The system offers solutions to help the driver correct those issues. Antonio says that companies are now increasingly concerned with their fleets’ on-road performance, as it affects the company’s image. Safe and appropriate driving behaviour also helps to reduce wear and tear on the car and cut petrol consumption, which in turn contribute to a company’s operational efficiency.
The heart of the 4S solution is a plug-and-play Smart Box. Through camera lenses and sensors fitted on different parts of the car, the system can send warnings to the driver when the car is in potential danger. It also collects video driving records, which are uploaded in real-time to GreenSafety’s server via Wi-Fi and 4G mobile networks. The information will be integrated into the big data of driving behaviour.
Professional services on offer
With the Smart Box and big data, GreenSafety offers professional installation of the device, data analysis and strategic consultation on improving drivers’ attitude. The company uses a cloud interface to let drivers and fleet managers reveal data, information and analytics rendered in charts in real-time. Fleet managers can make relevant improvement plans in accordance with the results. Antonio emphasises that companies that use empathetic means to promote safe driving, such as offering rewards to encourage drivers to stop bad driving habits, will generally be more positively received than punishment. GreenSafety offers this type of professional advice to clients.
Expanding the Greater China market
Since GreenSafety introduced the 4S solution, it has received positive feedback in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Taiwan. It is now expanding to Macau. The CLP Group and the Mass Transit Railway are trialing the system with their car fleets. A Shenzhen bus company has also adopted the solution. In September 2017, GreenSafety won a public tender by the Taipei government to apply the solution to Taipei’s public bus companies.
Antonio is optimistic about the company’s business prospects, as both the public and private sectors of Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are increasingly concerned with road safety, and the regions are adopting smart city initiatives including autonomous vehicles and smart mobility technology as policy measures. He hopes that the Hong Kong Government will encourage government departments and public organisations to apply new technologies not only to support their operations but also take the lead in society to support the development of the local innovation and technology sector.
Antonio says that HKSTP has helped GreenSafety as a start-up to increase its exposure and marketing promotion. The company is also working with HKSTP’s Data Studio, by sharing big data with the industry as well as conducting data analytics and R&D. In the future, the company will continue to expand in scale and break into other geographical markets. It also hopes to evolve its product and become a provider of comprehensive car fleet management solutions, as it heads towards its vision of “developing a set of international-standard safe driving protocols”.