Posting in Cities
Drivers in China were stuck for days in the mother of all traffic jams. Experts say technology and analytics can help prevent such occurrences, as cities grow. And more ideas are being sought.
China may have recently gained the honor of officially becoming the world's second-largest economy, and with that honor also came some of the spoils -- including the world's most gigantic traffic jam. A 60-mile gridlock extending from Beijing to the reaches of Inner Mongolia. (The latest report say the jam-up has vanished, somehow.)
Perhaps Chinese planners could look south, to Singapore, for ways technology and analytics can help tamp down the likelihood of such incidents. In Singapore controllers receive real-time data through sensors to model and predict future traffic flows “with 90% accuracy.”
The experiences of Singapore and other cities were examined in a recent report from IBM, which explores how transportation officials are now able to collect real-time data on traffic conditions and instantaneously analyze that data and deploy strategies that minimize delays and congestion. Thanks to the proliferation of data-gathering devices on our roads and recent advances in business analytics -large volumes of data can be quickly synthesized and actionable insights extracted that allow for active management of our transportation networks to keep people moving more efficiently.
New approaches to traffic management is also being developed through crowdsourcing. Witness the current data mining competition being held as part of IEEE International Conference on Data Mining 2010 (ICDM), being held in Sydney, Australia, this December. Sponsored by TomTom, the competition, which closes September 6th for entries, seeks solutions that enable the "prediction of city traffic based on simulated historical measurements or real-time stream of notifications sent by individual drivers from their GPS navigators." Prizes worth $5,000 will be awarded to the winners.
Contest organizers are asking researchers to devise algorithms that tackle problems of traffic flow prediction, for the purpose of intelligent driver navigation and improved city planning. This may be the only way to untangle the scourge of urban gridlock, organizers say: "Complexity of processes that stand behind traffic flow is so large, that only data mining algorithms - from the domains of structure mining, graph mining, data streams, large-scale and temporal data mining - may bring efficient solutions for these problems."
Readers, if your were asked for ways to prevent 60-mile traffic jams -- or at least keep them to manageable 30-mile gridlocks -- what would you recommend? Is data mining, as ICDM contest organizers suggest, the only way out, or are there other alternatives?
Aug 25, 2010
Fewer cars and a strong public transport sector tightly controlled by the councils. I lived in Singapore and the Island has a very strict car ownership policy. Buying and running a vehicle there costs an arm and a leg. Taking a government licenced and controlled cab is a cheap way of getting around on the island. Public transport is very well organised and readily available with loads of stations along each route. You never have to walk very far to get to a pick up point. It's only the rich and overpaid expats that can afford to drive cars there. I also lived in Shanghai and that is another story altogether! I'm not at all surprised they had a five day grid lock lol!
It appears I cannot edit a previous post (as on ZDNet), so the word is disastrous, not disasterous. Sorry for the misspelling, should have looked it up before I posted it. I hope I got all of my typing errors, too.
If the bus ran near where I work, it might be an alternative. Why not have more exits and alternate routes? A 60 mile traffic jam is ridiculous, why not get off the road and take another route? Surely there are more roads to the same destination. Here in the city there are exits the interstate every mile, and each goes to a arterial street that connects to another, spreading out the jam to all over. Out of the city there are multiple exits that can be used. We were stuck in one on a turnpike a few years ago for several hours, due to an accident that partially blocked the roadway. We were in a construction zone with both directions of traffic on one set of two lanes, with a concrete barricade keeping you from making an illegal u-turn. It was also in a dead zone for some cell phone companies. If I get into one on an interstate in the city I try to get off as soon as possible. Another reason to stay away from the interstate system in the city. There is no public transportation to take me to work, and as the commenter poited out, we live too far away. I live 11 miles from work and on the "backroads" it is to me, too dangerous to ride a bike to work, especially in the dark. I suppose if we all rode motorcycles, then we could get around the cause of the jam, unless it is a bridege out or something else of a disasterous nature.