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Põlva's finished Smart Road project handed over to local government

A lit-up smart crosswalk along Kesk tänav, part of the completed Smart Road project in the Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva.
A lit-up smart crosswalk along Kesk tänav, part of the completed Smart Road project in the Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva. Source: Mart Suurkask/Bercman Technologies, Martti Rõigas/Põlva municipal government

The Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva is now officially home to a 2.5-kilometer stretch of smart road after listed tech company Bercman Technologies handed its completed Smart Road project over to Põlva municipal government.

Põlva's Smart Road was built with the aim of increasing road safety and piloting an intracity average average speed measurement system combined with a smart pedestrian crosswalk solution, Bercman Technologies said in a market announcement on Thursday, noting that the handover of the project met the scheduled deadline at the end of 2023.

In the framework of this project, Bercman implemented its proprietary Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk safety system, which features traffic data collection capabilities, across a 2.5-kilometer stretch of Kesk tänav and Jaama tänav that together constitute a main artery through Central Põlva.

This system was deployed at 14 unregulated crossing points, including the installation of vehicle number recognition cameras at five crosswalks for the purpose of measuring average speeds. Variable message signs were also installed at both ends of the smart road, providing drivers with real-time feedback about their driving speeds.

Smart crosswalk along Kesk tänav in the Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva. Source: Mart Suurkask/Bercman Technologies, Martti Rõigas/Põlva municipal government

"Globally, average speed measurement has proven to be an effective tool for traffic calming and reducing collisions," Bercman CEO Mart Suurkask said. "In Põlva, this method, integrated with our smart crosswalks, offers an innovative, cost-effective solution to further elevate road safety."

Suurkask noted that to their knowledge, the project in Põlva marks the first implementation of such a comprehensive solution worldwide.

"Our smart crosswalks not only detect pedestrians and alert drivers with LED lights, but also measure vehicle speeds and gather anonymized traffic data," he said. "Looking ahead, these crosswalks have the potential to integrate with V2X communication technologies, enhancing vehicle-infrastructure interaction."

"A primary goal of this project is to create a safer environment for all our residents, from children to the elderly," Põlva Municipal Mayor Martti Rõigas said, commenting on the completion of the project. "The system's capability of measuring and providing feedback on average vehicle speeds is a key component in positively influencing driver behavior. This was evident from the first day of testing, when the system detected a vehicle speeding at 80 km/h in the city center."

Rõigas noted that the system likewise anonymously collects traffic flow data, including pedestrian and vehicle counts at crosswalks, as well as monitors key air quality indicators, which will allow municipal leaders to make "informed, data-driven decisions for Põlva's future development."

In September 2023, Bercman also updated its data protection impact assessment for its smart crosswalk devices, which confirms that the anonymized data collected through them pose no threat to individual rights and freedoms.

The development of the Põlva Smart Road project was undertaken with joint efforts and co-funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the initiative titled "Increasing the local socioeconomic impact of the R&D&I system and smart specialization for the development of growth areas (ICT + health + resources)."

The grant for this particular project was awarded to Põlva Municipality, with Enterprise Estonia serving as the implementing agency.

The total contract value, inclusive of VAT, amounted to €167,980, with 50 percent thereof provided as a grant by Enterprise Estonia.

A lit-up smart crosswalk in the dark, part of the completed Smart Road project in the Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva. Source: Mart Suurkask/Bercman Technologies, Martti Rõigas/Põlva municipal government

Founded in 2016 and listed on Nasdaq Tallinn's alternative First North market since July 2021, AS Bercman Technologies is an Estonian technology company specializing in development services, the creation of proprietary products and the provision of comprehensive technology systems.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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