Transportation is a key governmental function that has enormous impact on the citizens’ well being. Traffic congestion adds stress to our lives, retards economic development, and impacts the environment.
Performance Management is the mandate of the day for governments, both federal and the state and local government. In the past, many government agencies would measure performance such as the number of roads resurfaced, number of traffic lights installed, and the number of dollars spent on transportation. These were input data elements. A more recent focus, and one that is more meaningful to citizens, is to measure the outcomes achieved by the government agencies. In the case of transportation, an outcome might be the average commute time from one location to another, the average speed on a roadway, or the volume of traffic (or persons) carried by a road segment during the peak traffic hour.
Reporting on outcomes is but the first step. The performance achieved must be compared to the desired quality of service (QoS). Setting of the QoS goals for transportation and other government functions is worthy of a public debate because there are invariably tradeoffs, the major one being how much more one is willing to pay to achieve a better outcome.
Another step that can be done with the outcome data is to
determine trends and predict what might happen if the trends continue. We call this Predictive Analytics. We can plan the transportation infrastructure
that will be needed if
Additionally, the performance data can be analyzed to find patterns. Does the QoS fall short only in certain spots or at a certain time of day? Why is this happening? We can build models of the traffic flows and run simulations to allow us to ask questions such as “Would an extra off-ramp lane prevent the exiting traffic from backing up on the Beltway?” Or “Would running an extra lane Southbound in the morning improve the traffic flows?”
Getting back to the recent Tractor-Trailer accident, has anyone done any modeling and simulation of what might happen if I-495 were blocked by an accident - - or a terrorist action? Do we have alternate routes identified? Do we have the computer systems to redirect traffic to these alternate routes and to dynamically change the traffic patterns on certain roads to facilitate the flow in traffic in what may be abnormal ways?
If you’d like to voice your opinion about the traffic situation in your city, fill in our on-line questionnaire "Traffic Survey" Disclaimer: This is not intended to be a scientific, randomized survey, and I make no claim to its validity. However, I will publish the results in a future blog, if we get enough interest in the poll.
Give me your thoughts on how analytics might be used to improve our traffic situation. Write to me at email@example.com or respond to this blog.
-Frank Stein, Director, IBM’s
More on Analytics at our website www.ibm.com/ASCdc