New Business Diversification of the Year: Street Data Service, Posti and Vaisala

Sensors and cameras have been fitted to Posti’s delivery vehicles to enable staff to capture data on road conditions

In June 2016 Posti teamed up with Vaisala, which develops products and services for environmental and industrial measurement, to create the Street Data Service. The new service sees Posti use Vaisala’s RoadAI solution to create situational pictures of the road network and environment in Finland in connection with the mail delivery network.

“The data used in the service is collected automatically using computer vision software from Vaisala’s video and road weather sensors, as well as from cameras connected to delivery vehicles,” says Tommi Pekkala, business manager, data services, Posti. “In addition, Posti personnel submit reports manually, through text and images, using handheld smartphones, which have an embedded data collection application. Computer vision technology is used to derive elements such as road signs and markings and road and weather conditions from video material. Data is then analyzed, anonymized – according to GDPR legislation – and shared automatically, through a secure back-end system, to customer organizations.”

According to Pekkala, the service is currently live in two Finish cities. “It is being used in Espoo and Imatra,” he says. “We are in discussions with several other cities to introduce the solution. Currently, we are developing the solution in line with fast growing customer demand. We have two operating models – a continuous data service for daily data collection needs, and a seasonal data service to provide inventory for specific data needs. The goal is to expand the operations to several Finnish cities this year.”

Aside from collecting data on road conditions and weather, Posti also hopes to expand the service so it covers other things along the delivery route, such as conditions of traffic signs, electricity poles and telecommunication boxes. In addition to optimizing road maintenance, in the long term Posti also hopes that the cooperation with Vaisala will also support smart traffic development projects in Finland.

According to Pekkala, Posti has received great feedback on the new Street Data Service from its customers and local organizations. “The public really seems to understand the societal benefits the new service provides. The main aim of this project is to improve the road network in Finland, not just for Posti, but also for other industries.

“Before developing the solution, we were looking at ways we could utilize our huge geographical presence. Environmental data is needed in many industries, including for maintenance and planning purposes. It made sense for us to expand into this area.”

Markus Melander, head of business development for computer vision at Vaisala, adds, “It is great to see how Vaisala’s RoadAI technology can find scalable business models in creative organizations like Posti. The future of fleet management is not only about internal data. It is also about what data we can provide for public works and for the transportation ecosystem.”

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Also shortlisted:

  • Integrated car service pack, LibanPost
  • Luggage delivery, PostNL and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
  • 3D printing, PostNord
  • Digital services, Jersey Post