Punjab University College of Information Technology (PUCIT) has won a competitive research grant of Rs. 97.705 million to establish a research laboratory to address multifaceted problems of traffic and transportation with the help of Information and Communication Technology.
Dr Syed Waqarul Qounain will be the principal investigator of the lab, while Dr Muhammad Murtaza Yousaf, Dr Shahzad Sarwar and Mian Muhammad Mubasher will be co-principal investigators. This group of PUCIT teachers applied for the grant to establish Agent Based Computational Modeling Laboratory in the National Center of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI). NCAI will consist of six research laboratories, one each at NUST, PU, UET Lahore, CIIT, NED, and UET Peshawar with approximately Rs. 1.1 billion funding provided by the Planning Commission of Pakistan through the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. The PUCIT laboratory has prepared a roadmap to conduct state-of-the-art research and design intelligent software to solve traffic problems normally faced in the urban areas of the country. The college will also receive additional grant through Rs 280.85 million shared funds.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) about 1.25 million people die worldwide in road accidents every year. More than 90% of these accidents occur in developing (low and middle income) countries involving people having ages from 15 to 30. If the trend continues, traffic accidents will become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by 2030. Keeping these projections under consideration in the newly proposed initiative by the United Nations Organization (UNO) titled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, a target is set to reduce these numbers to half by 2020. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), 87,414 road accidents occurred between 2004 and 2013, causing injuries to around 148,230 persons, with a 31 percent rate of death.
Growing population and immigration stress on urban cities transportation planning, management and up-gradation is becoming a multifaceted problem affecting lives of millions of people. PUCIT will conduct studies to understand behaviour of human drivers, design effective driver training and assessment tools, and construct intelligent in-vehicle driver support system. Besides driver’s intelligent support software, the group plan to build a simulation software that will help transport engineers and policy makers to comprehend traffic dynamics, effect of various on-road interventions on traffic flow, and interaction of pedestrians with road vehicles.
PUCIT Principal Prof Dr Syed Mansoor Sarwar said the grant was perhaps the largest national competitive research grant won by any group of PU teachers. Dr Sarwar said the college planned to remain a top-notch institution of higher learning in IT and computing. He said PUCIT had grown from a sub average to a top-notch academic institutions in the past 10 years, with 18 PhD faculty member including five Fulbright scholars, two Erasmus Mundus scholars, and one DAAD scholar.