Qassim UniversityThe tech-forward drive for road safety

The tech-forward drive for road safety

Safe and sustainable transport links are a key ingredient to making a more liveable city. At Qassim University, researchers are using scientific principles to support government efforts to revolutionise road safety

A social reform blueprint that touches almost every aspect of society, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative has the ambition, scale and scope to be transformative. The country’s research community is assembled to meet the challenges it lays out.

Academics across the country are increasingly focused on conducting research that has measurable social impact. At Qassim University, one of the key research priorities is innovative technology solutions for transport and engineering – designing more liveable cities through enhanced traffic safety, sustainable transport and airport planning and design.

Meshal Almoshaogeh, assistant professor in civil engineering in the College of Engineering, says Qassim’s research priorities are aligned with Vision 2030, and his team are looking at ways to improve its citizens’ quality of life through safer, more sustainable transport. One of the most dramatic indicators of their success can be found on the nation’s roads. 

“The number of traffic accidents and the number of injuries, number of deaths on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is tremendously reduced in the past five or six years,” Almoshaogeh says. “Let’s say those are our KPIs. The numbers prove our solutions are promising. They are succeeding. But there is no limit to the success because we want zero fatalities on the road. This is what every country is looking for and hopefully we shall reach it very soon.”

The experiences in other cities around the world are important to Almoshaogeh’s research. Cities share similar challenges, and much can be learned by collaborating with international partners. Besides working closely with the Ministry of Transport in Saudi Arabia and with the public and private sectors, Qassim’s researchers exchange knowledge on sustainable transport with colleagues in the US, Pakistan, China, India and Japan. Finding technological solutions that can improve the liveability of a city is a constant process.

“In the field of sustainable transportation, there is no cutting edge,” Almoshaogeh says. “We are always trying to improve ourselves and of course others are trying, too. We are always trying – through different technological solutions, through different initiatives, research projects.”

Six traffic and transportation engineering projects have been funded via the Qassim deanship of scientific research, with investment going to lab infrastructure and graduate students. International perspectives are vital on campus, and several scholarships are awarded to domestic and international students.

Almoshaogeh says his team’s research findings inform the teaching and learning at Qassim University, with the curriculum covering all aspects of sustainability. Their efforts require close links with other research teams within the College of Engineering, with the knowledge of advanced materials and nanotechnologies specialists vital.

One of Qassim’s projects involves designing the pavements of the future. As Fawaz Alharbi, assistant professor in civil engineering and member of the research team, explains, all aspects of the city’s infrastructure are related to sustainable transport. “We have worked on the pavements, sustainable pavements which are related to the sustainability of the transportation,” he says. “[We approach it] from different aspects, from recycling the pavement or using the pavement as a filter once we have rainfall.”

Almoshaogeh says Qassim University’s commitment to finding technological solutions for the 21st-century city is evidenced by its investment in lab infrastructure and faculty. He notes that the priorities of the government initiative are interlinked. Traffic safety is a key pillar, one that supports the drive for efficiency, for attracting more tourists and for making the country a better place to live.

“All of this needs great, smart and sustainable transportation,” he says. “If you don’t have sustainable transportation, you will not reach your goal.” 

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