Predicting the Traffic Tomorrow

August 27th, 2012 by

Researchers in Sweden are tracking GPS signals from hundreds of taxis on the streets to use in a computer algorithms that can look for patterns in the data and create forecasts based on weather, time of day, construction delays, and more. The researchers say their model could be used in smartphone apps and urban traffic planning anywhere. Existing services do a great job of showing real time information, but they can’t tell the user what time they should leave the office to get across town when there’s rain expected. The main elements of the iMobility solution are data capture and software-based forecasting. For the data capture component, iMobility has teamed up with a taxi company to receive positional data each time the GPS systems installed in about 1,500 taxis check in with the satellites. Millions of observations have been logged, stored and processed in high-powered servers. A website set up by the project lets users follow the cars through the city’s streets in real time. For that, coders on the team are working on powerful algorithms that can sort through all these positional reports, combining them with data from other sources to get a long-term picture of how traffic flow is likely to be affected by weather or disruptions such as accidents. The iMobility model is aimed at two main application areas. The system can help give drivers better online journey planners by creating forecasts based on historical data, while at the same time building long-term visualization tools for use by policy makers and traffic planners. The researchers have already been able to combine GPS data from mobile sources like fleet vehicles with traffic speed information from stationary cameras and radar sensors. The next step is to begin overlaying other real time sources like weather, construction, accidents, and major events.

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