Understanding Congestion with Data

Avery Ash, Head of Global Public Policy and Product Strategy, INRIX joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss how data can help cities and DOTs (Department of Transportations) better understand congestion and how to properly plan for it.

The conversation begins with Avery discussing how INRIX gathers anonymous data from 500 million vehicles, mobile devices, mobile apps, parking lot operators, mobile carriers and smart meters all in real-time.

Expanding their data gathering capabilities, INRIX recently announced a partnership with GM where data from 15 million vehicles will be used in a collaborative manner to create Safety View. This product leverage the promise of connected vehicles to improve safety planning in local communities.

As local communities plan for safe road ways, data will play a vital role in determining the best way to improve safety. In Washington, D.C. for example, 20% of drivers travel at least 10 mph above the speed limit in school zones. Knowing this data, schools will be better prepared to implement safety solutions such solutions as speed bumps, crossing guards, lowering speed limits in surrounding neighborhoods and working with local law enforcement to increase the police presence.

You can not expect one silver bullet solution that is going to solve this problem.

– Avery Ash

Once the new safety measures are put in place, schools can measure the impact of the changes thanks to the data. Data is also having an impact on how cities tackle the issue of congestion. Each year, INRIX publishes their Annual Global Traffic Scorecard and this year the company reported that the average American driver lost 36 hours in 2021 due to congestion. With all of this data being gathered, how can cities effectively use the data to reduce traffic? That is the million dollar question.

In London which is the world’s most congested city, where drivers lost 148 hours to congestion in 2021, the city has not figured out how to effectively reduce traffic even as the city has a daily £15 congestion tax.

New York City is currently debating on whether to follow London’s lead and introduce a congestion tax. But NYC has a crime problem that three quarters of New Yorkers have called a very serious problem. Crime is driving New Yorkers tourists alike to single occupancy vehicles out of an abundance of caution. When planning for congestion, it’s important to take into account a variety of data points and not just rely on one source of data.

It’s really important to enter into these sorts of policy changes with eyes wide open and with a willingness and frankly a plan for how you are going to measure the impact.

– Avery Ash

Could autonomous vehicle drop-off and pick-up zones be a potential solution in the future as AVs scale and are deployed in cities around the world? Grayson and Avery discuss drop-off and pick-up zones as a potential solution for congestion in cities.

Wrapping up the conversation, Avery shares his opinion on the best way cities can prepare for the large scale deployment of autonomous vehicles.

The first step is to get a really clear understanding of how your roadways are currently being used and what behavior looks like across your road networks, across all road users.

– Avery Ash

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Recorded on Tuesday, August 30, 2022