Today, I'm reading about some exciting news for commuters. A team from IBM Research, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the University of California, Berkeley, are developing the Smarter Traveler solution to help commuters avoid congestion and enable transportation agencies to better manage traffic.
Imagine you're about to drive to work. You're a smart commuter, so you check the traffic report before you leave home. Your route looks clear. Twenty minutes later, you're stuck in traffic, anxious, frustrated, and wasting expensive gas. Every ten minutes, a voice on your radio reminds you that the road you're on is jammed. Because you're between exits, there is little you can do but remain stuck.
Now imagine that, before you leave home, you get a text message or an email advising you that a section of the route you typically take is likely to be congested. It's not congested now, but 20 minutes from now--when you get to that spot--it will be. The message suggests an alternate route that is unlikely to be congested. You change your plans and enjoy a stress-free commute.
Commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area are testing that predictive technology right now, thanks to the new Smarter Traveler initiative. Because participants receive the message before they get behind the wheel, it's safe. And, because the routes they drive are less congested, they're enjoying more time with their families and spending less at the gas pump.
Most communities have a system for measuring traffic volume and speeds. Now this partnership has developed a model to take that data and predict what traffic will be like when you're likely to be on the road.
In the final step, the program communicates safely to you before you get behind the wheel, when you can still use that information to make driving decisions.
It may be early in the game, but I think this sounds terrific. When commuters are alerted ahead of time, they avoid roads that are likely to be congested and can even end up preventing the predicted congestion from ever occurring by altering their routes. Because they've received the message when they're not driving, no one's safety is put at risk.
Safe communication. Less gas consumed. Time saved. Frustration averted. That's intelligent transportation.