Translating road rage into reportage
Missed Collisions — Web Application
Missed Collisions is a Ruby on Rails application that enables cyclists, pedestrians and drivers to informally report a range of incidents (near collisions, traffic offenses and potential road and lighting hazards) that would otherwise go unreported.
The application visualizes problem areas around the city in realtime as reports are posted by users. Our hope is to collect enough meaningful data to help cities make better decisions around improving road safety.
Missed Collisions was generously funded by Creative BC and the BC Arts Council and developed in collaboration with software engineer, Jade Tong.
The initial proponents of Missed Collisions are commuters who are concerned about issues facing their local communities. These are individuals aged 20-50 who are interested in civic engagement initiatives and attend public hearings, informational events, community dialogues and festivals. They have a higher than average level of technological aptitude and use, and have an active presence on social media. They own a smartphone and, if they are not a proficient user of WhatsApp or other free mobile messaging applications, at least use SMS messaging fluently.
We also anticipated that Missed Collisions would attract audiences who would find value in it as a visualization tool. These include city officials, student researchers and data visualization enthusiasts.
Jade had initially developed Missed Collisions as a project for her coding bootcamp at CodeCore to demonstrate her knowledge of back-end technologies.
Local designer, Vania Musa, designed the branding and graphic assets for Missed Collisions which helped inform our high-fidelity prototypes.
We commissioned local filmmaker, Lawrence Le Lam, to produce a promotional YouTube video showing three commuters interacting with the application after each experiencing a near miss.
In addition, our community outreach approach to publicity proved highly successful in promoting Missed Collisions and was one of the most rewarding highlights of doing the project. The opportunity to pitch to supportive users at HUB Cycling Coalition, and to talk with civically-minded citizens at various street Festivals and libraries demonstrated that there was a strong desire to have a platform like Missed Collisions out there for commuters.
From 2016 to 2017, the website received over 150 anonymous submissions from users across the Lower Mainland, with the majority of reports originating from Vancouver. Despite the low usage during our first year, we found the community response to be overwhelmingly positive.
Because it takes time to commit to reporting incidents, Missed Collisions attracted users who were already actively engaged in their communities and were more likely to contribute to civic technology projects like ours.
This is a project we hope to continue to refine based on the strong levels of interest we have received. We hope Missed Collisions continues to see more reports and that in time we will have enough quantitative and qualitative data to begin to have conversations with different municipalities.