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Merivale High School students build a traffic app to help get around Ottawa on the safest routes

Merivale High School students Rohan Bahl and Matthew Zhou have spent hundreds of hours working on a year-end computer science project that has grown into something much larger than first anticipated.

The students have developed an app called “Traffic Helper” that uses open-source data and artificial intelligence that prioritizes safety when travelling around Ottawa to avoid high-risk collision areas.

“We had to make sure everything accounted for part of it, and it integrated together in a seamless experience,” said Bhal.

The idea was sparked by safety concerns outside their high school. On Oct.16, 2023 another Merivale student as struck by a minivan.

“That was the foundation and the basis of our application,” said Zhou. “We wanted to build on that idea and make the routes (to school) safer.”

In the Ottawa Police Services 2023 annual report, there were nearly 19,300 collisions on Ottawa roadways, that’s up 28 per cent from the previous year. There were also 27 traffic fatalities, up from 23 in 2022.

Traffic Helper’s users can personalize their mode of transportation for driving, walking or cycling. The app then optimizes the safest route based on other factors like on distance and speed, and data from historical traffic incidents from “Open Ottawa.

“(The app) will tell us what path to take from our start location to our end location. For each path we have risk of accident chance, we have a time taken, and a distance of how long it’s expected to be,” said Bhal.

Traffic Helper is available for free on

Bahl and Zhou invite everyone to use it, to help improve it for future use.

“Just find out app by searching the name. We would love it if people could build on it, contribute, leverage even more comprehensible power to build and make this app expand to even bigger heights,” added Bahl.

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