Traffic jams aren’t just annoying to drivers who are trying to get home. Congestion induces lost work and leisure hours, impairs the mental health of individuals and increases air pollution. These amount to billions of dollars a year for big and small economies.
The solutions that are often suggested to this conundrum require reducing the number of cars on the roads. They revolve around better public transportation, shared transportation solutions and working from home. The idea is that if commuters would take up less space on the road, streets wouldn’t fill up and commuters could move faster instead of getting stuck.
These are important solutions that should be implemented, for the sustainability of our planet and a better quality of life. Additional benefits of shared transit include boosting the economy, by increasing mobility within cities and to them.
The Solution to Road Congestion: Traffic Management
However, there is another solution that complements the aforementioned, and refers to the drivers that are actually on the road. This fix is traffic management. Traffic management includes rerouting cars and vehicles that are on the road and guiding them to less congested paths, as well as streetlight adaptation according to congestion, and long-term planning of the traffic flow according to traffic analytics. In addition, traffic management can be used to identify, react and investigate car accidents faster, and provide instant alerts on road hazard conditions.
To be effective, traffic management has to take place in real-time and over time. Thus, improving the driving routes for people that are on the road now, as well as creating long-term strategies that will benefit cities over time and reduce congestion overall. Therefore, traffic management requires large amounts of data in real-time, and what better source of data than the actual roamers of the streets: cars.
Connected Car Attributes Enable Traffic Management
Connected cars are transmitting huge amounts of data attributes, like GPS, ignition on/off, accelerometer and road sign data. These attributes can be analyzed in algorithms for determining expected and existing traffic conditions, like congestion, traffic patterns and road hazards. To work effectively, the attributes should be integrated into traffic management systems operated by municipalities, smart city operators and their partners. By doing so, these entities can effectively manage traffic, provide real-time road safety alerts and build smart city solutions and strategies, all based on data-driven insights.
Such smart city analysis is based on anonymized data from thousands of cars. The ID, or VIN, of a specific car has no importance when analyzing road congestion. Thus, driver privacy is protected, while drivers still benefit from sharing their data. This is a good example of the shared economy – all drivers contribute their small share, and they all benefit from the whole, which is larger than the sum of its parts.
Effective traffic management will benefit all drivers, by reducing the number of hours wasted on the road and their cost. This is not just an economical question. Rather, it’s a moral one, focusing on what a happy, healthy life means. A city that can offer more time to its citizens for recreation, family time, or resting, is a city that creates a better, more fulfilling life to each individual and to society as a whole. Yes, traffic jams can become a relic, and we have an obligation that they do.
Waycare uses Otonomo’s car data to reduce congestion and increase driver safety. Read how.
To learn how our car data can improve your traffic management, contact us.