Do You Want Faster Commutes? Big Data Can Help

Do You Want Faster Commutes?

For many people commuting is one of the worst aspects of their job. The average commuter in London travels for 277 hours per year – that’s almost an hour and a half a day. Workers in America fare little better, with 8.1 percent of people spending more than sixty minutes a day travelling while spending thirty eight hours per year stuck in traffic – a figure that nearly doubles for those working in big cities. With long commutes proven to be bad for your health, there is a need to address the issue.

Thankfully, companies around the world are looking exploiting big data in an attempt to reduce the times and ease the burden on workers.

Traffic Management Technology

IBM are working with the authorities in Lyon, France, to implement technology that will allow them to make real time decisions to proactively ease traffic congestion and reduce commuting times. This could include diversions, road closures, and lane management.

IBM’s Jurij Paraszczak, Director of their ‘Smarter Cities Research Department’, says that current traffic management centres can only rely on video feeds and colour maps to understand traffic conditions. The limitation means traffic engineers don’t have a complete overview of traffic and they are unable to fully take into account the current and future patterns. “Rather than pulling all the data together and displaying it in one place where people make decisions on to what to do with it, the idea is to pull the data, display it and then provide tools to drive what-ifs,” Paraszczak said. “The idea is to help them make decisions”.

City Planning

One of the biggest challenges when planning new transport infrastructure is understanding when, where, and how people use the existing networks. Without reliable information planning becomes difficult, and expense mistakes become more likely.

A potential solution is to use data from Inrix. The company specialises in real-time traffic data and now powers a wide variety of in-vehicle navigation systems, mobile apps, commercial fleet management systems and even Google Maps. According to its CEO Bryan Mistele, six of the eight car companies with built-in navigations systems use and share Inrix data, as do eight of the top twelve navigation apps in Apple’s App Store. The company now boasts more than 100 million endpoints as its data sources and covers more than 1.8 million miles of road worldwide.

Inrix can collate the data about traffic with other data sources it collects such as mass-transit systems, toll highways, traffic sensors and weather data. This will provide city planners the scope to devise more-intelligent traffic lights, bus routes, and train schedules that can alter themselves dynamically as the reality on the ground changes.

The company’s data can also be used to track people. During the London Olympics, data from mobile devices helped officials monitor the movement of people throughout the city, and the same methodology can be applied to city planning. By understanding where people are coming from and where they are going to, new roads, new parking spaces, and new transit systems can be more effectively implemented.

The Future?

How long is your commute? Would you benefit from big data’s assistance? Do you already use traffic monitoring apps? Let us know in the comments below.

By Daniel Price

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