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Vodafone launches STEP platform to improve road safety in Europe

David Murphy

Vodafone has launched a platform designed to connect road users directly with transport authorities and each other, enabling safety information, hazard warnings and traffic updates to be shared in real-time no matter which device or in-vehicle system they are using.

The platform is compatible with all third-party apps and in-vehicle navigation systems. Vodafone is collaborating with several partners to bring the technology to road users and plans to launch the platform within its own Vodafone Automotive apps later this year.

The new platform, called Safer Transport for Europe Platform (STEP), aims to address the problem of data fragmentation and information silos that limit the benefits connectivity can bring to road safety. Transport authorities today are often limited to delivering safety updates through road infrastructure such as motorway gantries, variable-message or matrix signs, or via a limited number of technologies developed by independent manufacturers, such as in-vehicle navigation systems.

STEP aims to offers a solution to these challenges. As a cloud-based platform built on open, industry standards, STEP enables a wide ecosystem of participants – governments, transport authorities, vehicle manufacturers, mobility service providers and other mobile network operators – to work together to improve road safety across Europe.

“Improving road safety is still a major challenge for Europe,” said Joakim Reiter, Chief External and Corporate Affairs Officer at Vodafone. “We believe that open platforms for faster, more efficient data sharing can play a significant role in helping prevent the unnecessary fatalities and injuries happening on our roads each year.”

STEP is designed to be compatible with all map apps and in-vehicle navigation systems developed by partner organisations, and users will benefit from free access to the platform and its safety features. In its initial phase, STEP will be able to facilitate the delivery of safety messages and targeted updates from road operators on lane closures, speed restrictions and traffic incidents on the road ahead, across a variety in-vehicle systems and navigation apps. STEP could also enable modelling of the road network in real-time, using secure, anonymised, and aggregated vehicle position data.

Vodafone’s long-term ambition is to develop the platform’s safety functionality to include detection warnings for vulnerable road users – for example, a driver of a large vehicle could be alerted to nearby cyclists or pedestrians out of view – as well as fleet management, stolen vehicle tracking and supporting usage-based insurance.

The launch of STEP builds on Vodafone’s successful trials of the UK’s first ‘vehicle-to-everything’ road safety system, a cloud-based mobility platform that provides road users with live, highly localised and targeted updates from road operators on lane closures, speed restrictions and traffic incidents.

Trials at Vodafone’s 5G Mobility Lab at the Aldenhoven Testing Centre in Germany have also explored how 5G technology and highly precise location tracking can help improve traffic safety. Vodafone is already collaborating with automotive manufacturers, road operators, transport authorities, tech partners and app developers on current and future use cases for the Safer Transport for Europe Platform.