The Last Traffic Jam Made Possible By Technology
The Last Traffic Jam Made Possible By Technology

If you live in a major metropolitan area, you likely spend part of your day stuck in traffic. Roadway congestion is not only frustrating and stressful for drivers, but also expensive and wasteful. A recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimated that traffic congestion cost the U.S. economy $124 billion in 2013, and that by 2030 the annual expense of traffic in the U.S. and Europe could more than double to $293 billion.

The traffic information company Inrix also calculated that the monetary value of carbon emissions caused by vehicles idling in traffic in 2013 was $300 million. The company added that by 2030, this is expected to rise to $538 million, totaling $7.6 billion over the 17-year period.

But what if technology could help significantly alleviate traffic congestion and therefore free up roads and save wasted resources? That was the subject of a recent podcast I participated in with Cisco, as part of the company’s Future of IT podcast series, appropriately titled, The Last Traffic Jam.

Joining me was Joseph Bradley, Internet of Everything (IoE) evangelist and vice president of Cisco’s Consulting Services division. We discussed how the Last Traffic Jam can be made possible through IoE technologies that create connections between people, process, data, and “things,” including cars.

Whereas the massive investment required to build out smart transportation infrastructure is often cited as a hurdle, we pointed out in the podcast that much of the technology needed to make the Last Traffic Jam possible is already in place or being implemented, including smart parking spaces, automated tollbooths, partially autonomous cars and vehicle-to-vehicle communication. And by connecting these disparate systems via IoE, real steps can be taken towards alleviating costly traffic congestion.

We also discussed how this is already happening in places like the Port of Hamburg, which is better managing bridge closures since roadway congestion can be timed with the pattern of cargo ships entering and leaving the harbor. We also noted that Chicagois experimenting with collecting data from lamp posts to learn more about traffic patterns, weather trends and other factors so that transportation officials can better mitigate congestion and plow roads during winter for minimal impact on drivers.

Of course, any conversation about connected cars and IoE has to include a discussion on security and privacy. Just this week the Federal Trade Commission laid out its initial recommendations for IoE security and privacy in an extensive report. In the Cisco podcast, we discussed the need for automakers and other stakeholders to provide pervasive protection for connected cars, and how such assurances will be critical as more drivers trade personal data such as their location and destination as part of the price of escaping traffic.

Of all of the benefits of the connected car – including safety, convenience, productivity – perhaps the most tangible and attractive to the common commuter is not wasting time, money and fuel while sitting in traffic. And through technology, the Last Traffic Jam can be a reality and may be just up the road.

The full Last Traffic Jam podcast is available to download for free from iTunes.

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