June 17, 2014

Unsnarling I-95, with Data

George Leopold
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Like the weather, everyone whines about traffic. Now, an alliance of transportation agencies, toll authorities, and data analytics vendors are teaming up to apply real-time speed and travel time data to the problem of traffic congestion and the wasted hours and energy it creates.

The I-95 Corridor Coalition wants to apply data analytics to reduce congestion on one of the nation’s busiest interstate corridors, I-95, the 2,000-mile-long parking lot that runs from Maine to Florida. Working with the University of Maryland, which is located just off of I-95, the coalition launched the I-95 Vehicle Probe Project in 2008 to provide real-time traffic information.

The group said member transportation agencies eventually found other uses for the data beyond travel information.

Now, the coalition is expanding that effort to create a “traffic data marketplace.” Following a competition, three data vendors were selected in June to provide real-time speed and travel time data: HERE, a navigation, mapping and location services provider; traffic services provider INRIX; and location services vendor TomTom.

Iteris, a traffic management information vendor, is partnering with HERE on the I-95 Coalition project. Iteris said it would provide advanced traffic analytics used to monitor traffic and weather conditions, measure performance, optimize I-95 traffic capacity and provide traffic engineers with actionable information to keep traffic moving.I95 traffic

Iteris said it is currently working with HERE to develop real-time visual analytics and traffic data services for other transportation agencies.

Among other features, the Iteris software platform measures, manages and visualizes traffic networks to increase highway capacity. The company claims the platform can deliver cloud-based data analytics for what traffic engineers call “performance monitoring.” It also meets reporting requirements for a series of U.S. Transportation Department reforms called MAP-21 while predicting traffic and supplying “hyper-local”weather conditions.

The I-95 Coalition said it is expanding its traffic network emphasis to include freeways and arterial roads that feed I-95. The result would be a “unified operations picture that spans critical road classes,” George Schoener of the Coalition noted in a statement announcing the vendors.

Schoener said the traffic data marketplace would help improve the accuracy, timeliness and granularity of traffic data used to maintain I-95 capacity. The coalition will seek to expand its data capabilities later this year with the roll out of “real-time volume and origin-destination data” that would augment current speed and travel time capabilities.

Information from the I-95 traffic database could be available in time for the 2014 Fourth of July traffic crush, the coalition said, pending execution of revised data sharing agreements among the coalition’s members.

What remains to be seen is whether the adoption of data analytics to help solve traffic congestion can prevent that rubber-necker in front of you from slowing down to check out an accident.

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