Clogged roadways need new approaches
Next time you're stuck in traffic ground to a halt, think about this: as smart as our cars have become, our roadways are about to get a whole lot smarter.
It's certainly needed. 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%.
Building new roads and new lanes often just isn't possible any longer, but building intelligence into the roads and the cars-with roadside sensors, radio frequency tags, and global positioning systems—certainly is.
In Stockholm, a new smart toll system has reduced traffic and carbon emissions by impressive percentages.
In London, a congestion management system has lowered traffic volume to mid-1980s levels.
In Singapore, a system can predict traffic speeds with nearly 90% accuracy. With future enhancements, the system will help predict—rather than merely monitor—other traffic conditions, as well.
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 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:
A smart traffic system helped the city of Stockholm cut gridlock by 20%, reduce emissions by 12% and increase public transportation use dramatically.
A recent survey of commuters showed lost sleep, lost work hours, and lots of grief from traffic congestion problems. In some cities, nearly half of respondents said the current traffic system increased their stress levels.
Traffic was one subject at IBM's Global Innovation Outlook conference where some of the world's brightest minds were asked: how do we improve our cars, our roads, our public transit and how we ship our goods?