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To Test Accident Prediction Software, Startup Aims for Three City Pilots

An Israeli firm that hopes to predict traffic accidents is expanding to the U.S.

Meet WayCare: an Israeli startup that wants to predict when traffic accidents and congestion will happen in cities.

The firm is in the midst of a seed fundraising round and is working on potential pilot projects in Las Vegas, as well as Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The idea in those pilots will be to not only predict congestion and accidents, but also learn the most effective ways for cities to respond to those things.

None of the pilots are finalized yet. But when they are, CEO Noam Maital said the company would be focusing on corridors with comparatively high levels of traffic fatalities.

A spokesperson in the Tampa Department of Transportation and Stormwater Services confirmed that it’s in talks with WayCare about a potential pilot.

By putting data such as historical traffic incidents alongside information such as current weather and what time the sun will set, Maital said the company’s algorithms can learn to predict something like 70 percent of accidents up to two hours before they happen.

“[If] there’s a car stuck on the side of the road, that has a very big implication in our algorithm on whether a traffic accident is likely to occur,” he said.

That means cities could deploy police officers to strategic locations, or it could even help cities set variable speed limits. Since speed is a significant determinant of how severe an accident will be, bringing down speed could help avoid fatalities.

For now, it’s all preliminary — aside from the fundraising, WayCare is opening an office in Palo Alto, Calif., and working with the UpWest Labs accelerator.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.