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Smarter Traffic

How we get from point A today to point B tomorrow

Traffic congestion

In Moscow, drivers reported an average delay of two-and-a-half hours when asked to report the length of the worst traffic jam they experienced in the past three years. But they’re not alone.

Cities everywhere are battling an increase in demand and an inability to build sufficient infrastructure to cope. For example, in the U.S., as population grew nearly 20% between 1982 and 2001, traffic jumped 236%.

The recent IBM Commuter Pain Study (US) paints a grim picture of metropolitan-area commuters in many cities struggling to get to and from work each day, often with negative consequences. For example, 57 percent of all respondents say that roadway traffic has negatively affected their health, but that percentage soars to 96 percent in New Delhi and 95 percent in Beijing.



IBM Commuter Pain Index

IBM compiled the results of the survey into an Index that ranks the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each city on a scale of one to 100 ― with 100 being the most onerous. The Index reveals a tremendous disparity in the pain of the daily commute from city to city. For example, the commute in Beijing is four times more painful than the commute in Los Angeles or New York, and seven times more painful than the commute in Stockholm, according to the Index.

Here’s how the cities stack up:

The survey was conducted to better understand consumer thinking toward traffic congestion as the issue reaches crisis proportions nationwide and higher levels of auto emissions stir environmental concerns. These events are impacting communities around the world, where governments, citizens and private sector organizations are looking beyond traditional remedies like additional roads and greater access to public transportation to reverse the negative impacts of increased road congestion.


Drivers rated traffic in world cities from 1 to 100, with 100 being the most onerous. Chart: Beijing - 100. Mexico City - 100. Johannesburg - 98. Moscow - 83. New Dehli - 81. São Paulo - 76. Milan - 52. Buenos Aires - 50. Madrid - 49. London - 36. Paris - 36. Toronto - 32. Amsterdam - 25. Los Angeles - 25. Berlin - 24. Montreal - 23. New York - 19. Houston - 17. Melbourne - 17. Stockholm - 16.; Of the respondents: 87% have been stuck in roadway traffic in the last three years. 38% report that they have decided not to make a driving trip in the last month due to anticipated traffic. 31 % said that during the past three years traffic has been so bad that they turned around and went home.


Improving mobility for the 21st century

IBM Chairman Samuel J. Palmisano addresses members of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America about the opportunities for a smarter transportation system.



Traffic systems are part of a larger system

Rethinking how we get from point A to point B means applying new technology and new policies to old assumptions and habits. It means improving the drivers' experience, not just where and when they drive. And it could lead to advances in the cars we drive, the roads we drive them on, and the public transit we might take instead.

For example, seeing a city's traffic in a consolidated, real-time view can help anticipate problems, alleviate congestion and decrease emergency-response times. IBM Intelligent Transportation (US), a compliment to the Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities, enables advanced analysis of the many factors that make up traffic flow, and gives planners and responders a comprehensive look at the state of their city's roadways on ground level.


Smarter transportation

Smarter transportation means better systems for rail, air, public transit and freight. These can improve our cities, our economy and our daily lives.