It is a rare day that you won't take some form of transportation
A bus, train or car to work. A bike to school. A plane for a business trip. And even if you don't leave your home, your life is still influenced by the transportation industry: virtually every tangible good—food, clothing, medicine, vehicles, computers—has been transported into your world from somewhere else.
Transportation—the movement of people and goods from point A to point B—is the life force of our economy. Cities could not exist if we didn't have transportation systems to move people and goods in, out and around them. It has been a leading driver behind globalization: shrinking distances, seeding the emergence of entire new economies and improving the quality of life for millions of people.
Yet many of our transportation systems are inadequate to serve the needs of the 21st century. By integrating technology and intelligence into the physical transportation infrastructure, we can improve capacity, enhance the traveler experience and make our transportation systems more efficient, safe, and secure.
Sunnier sentiment for Memorial Day
See how social sentiment analysis reveals how Americans feel about travel on their first big holiday weekend in the summer of 2012.
Tweeting about travel: social sentiment analysis
Most people anticipate one thing when the Memorial Day holiday arrives in the US: travel. The Social Sentiment Index―which uses analytics and natural language processing technologies to gauge consumer public opinions from Twitter, blogs, message boards and other social media―shows a 46 percent increase in the amount of conversations about Memorial Day compared to 2011.
The Index also shows a large increase in social chatter about flying, with mentions up 65 percent compared to last year, while references to driving increased 13 percent. This suggests travel providers and transportation officials could see a boost in demand and traffic during the Memorial Day weekend.
Consider what happens when something goes wrong
A storm, a blackout or even a strike in one city can reverberate throughout the entire country because transportation is a complex, interconnected ecosystem of many stakeholders.
When our transportation system grinds to a stop, it costs money—between 1 and 3 percent of our gross domestic product. In the United States alone, 4.2 billion hours are lost to people sitting in traffic every year.
We can't build our way out of congestion with more roads and bridges and tracks. "The pattern we see is that every time a new road is built, utilization increases and congestion comes back," says Phil Mumford, CEO of Queensland Motorways in Australia. "We need to be smarter about how we manage our traffic flow." And our airport capacity. Our railways. And our shipping lanes.