This article (hosted by Intel) presents what they are doing to use technology and big data to work to lessen the effects of traffic and congestion in America's most grid locked cities. LA spent $400 million synchronizing all of their traffic lights in a way that has allowed them to increase travel speeds by 16% and lower overall congestion by 12%. Still, LA is America's most gridlocked city.
What can be done, in terms of technology, to actually improve the amount of traffic we encounter on our daily commutes?
According to Intel, it started with expensive loop detectors installed beneath the pavement, advanced to toll tags in cars that could be tracked to manage average speed and spot incidents, and is now progressing into using wireless sensors to anonymously extract data from wireless devices about speed. This, paired with signal-mounted cameras, can help traffic engineers fix traffic timing on generally congested routes. Basically, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals can be used to aggregate data, computer average travel times, and make adjustments to help improve congestion.
Some companies, like Inrix, gather data anonymously and use it to inform states' Department of Transportation about slowdowns and traffic queues. Where does the line of traffic end? If, ultimately, the end point of the queue is able to be determined and sent to drivers along with alternate routes, the overall congestion caused by accidents, weather, construction and other delays could be lessened on a wide-spread scale.
Some cities, like NY, have people monitoring what the average trip to traffic heavy areas causes. One big plan in New York is to charge a toll to enter Central Manhattan during rush hour times. It is believed that this will speed traffic up by nearly 15%, and give the city the ability to halve tolls on bridges that do not lead to the central business district. Not only would this make the city less crowded during rush hour times, it would help those not from central city spend less money on their trips.
Still, we have a long way to go when it comes to efficiently using data to improve congestion and traffic in our cities. Often, it just costs too much money to implement procedures that would help engineers figure out the routes that would save everyone time, and that is what is keeping us congested.