IBM has just sent out a press release announcing a new research initiative that could be the beginning of the end for the concept of traffic. (GearLog) They are using an advanced analytics engine to build 'personalized travel routes' for regular commuters. These routes will adapt based on the traffic of the day, as well as route information and past route history.
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The purpose of this research is to go “well beyond traditional traffic reports” and help drivers to avoid gridlock and traffic by warning them ahead of time. Right now, IBM is starting small. They're launching pilot projects that involve sets of commuters and working with state/local transportation agencies. If this initiative works, though, the sky is the limit.
Imagine a traffic app that you could plug into with any smartphone on the market. It would take notes on your daily commute, measure the traffic of varying routes all around you, and suggest the fastest route based on that information. Since (one presumes) all of this route data would be connected in the cloud, a service like this would be able to 'manage' many, many different commuters at a time.
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Maybe. It's still a bit of a pie-in-the-sky idea at this point, but even a minor alleviation of gridlock stress would be a huge help. If IBM can do away with traffic entirely...well, let's just say there aren't enough awards in the world to adequately repay that debt.