History of SafeZone
Clive's concept was based on the idea of a solar powered, in-pavement flashing warning light, but one which could be wirelessly controlled, making it cheaper to install than either traffic lights, speed cameras or hard-wired road-side or in-pavement visual warning systems.
The concept of placing the flashing beacons in the road, where they were almost impossible for drivers to miss, meant drivers would be more effectively warned to 'go slow' - a message that seemed to be missing or not very effectively delivered by many other treatments, including painted crocodile teeth on the road, or road-side flashing signs.
A concept appeared on the ABC's New Inventors program in 2004, however, the technical complexities associated with communicating with such a small device via a radio signal from any great distance, and the durability of fragile electronics in the road, deterred any organisation from investigating it further.
In early 2005, however, Sydney-based electronics design and manufacturing firm PNE Electronics took up the challenge, developing a prototype storage-cell powered, in-pavement beacon system. What was needed, that the initial concept did not address, was a wireless control system that was robust, reliable and easily implemented. This is where PNE's unique experience became the critical 'missing element'.
Following two years of research, SafeZone 'Mark 2' was trialled by the New South Wales RTA, and the system's reliability and robustness was confirmed, with the solutions trialled being shown to be almost as effective as speed cameras in getting drivers to SLOW DOWN to within the 40kph speed limit within an active school zone.
Following the successful 'proof of concept', further development was conducted to make SafeZone smaller, more durable and more flexible, as well as to adapt it to a range of high risk applications, including its use at railway and pedestrian crossings prone to incidents and fatalities.
Following a further two years of refinement, SafeZone 'Mark 3' was first deployed in late 2009 in a major Woolworths food distribution centre, where trucks, cars and pedestrians interacted, and where far better driver warnings were needed to avoid costly or even fatal incidents.
In 2010, further deployments by Rio Tinto and the Tasmanian Department of Infrastructure (DIER) for a major railway safety project, further validated the effectiveness of the SafeZone solution.
Today, SafeZone is becoming widely accepted as a highly effective, highly robust, highly reliable and extremely affordable solution for road and rail safety enhancements, addressing everything from railway and pedestrian crossings to improving workplace safety. It's a classic example of indiginous Australian capability and local innovation delivering unique solutions for Australian and global applications.