Apr 14 2011   10:20AM GMT

Technology enables Orwellian world, but at least there won’t be traffic jams

WAshford Profile: WAshford


It is good to know that one of the world’s largest IT companies is looking into applying technology to important global problems such as traffic congestion.

A team of researchers at IBM, dedicated to the conundrum of how to avoid being caught in a traffic jam, have drawn on sophisticated analytics software to do just that.

The solution they have come up with works with a network of sensors the state has already embedded in roads throughout California and GPS co-ordinates from users’ mobile phones, according to reports.

Unlike current traffic websites, the system does not show what traffic patters looked like minutes ago, but indicates what it will look like 30 to 40 minutes in the future.

The system is designed to learn users’ daily commutes and offer alternatives when those routes are congested.

The researchers say the system could eventually be combined with other data such as train schedules and other transit data, to provide a more complete picture of people’s daily migrations and get a snapshot of the transportation infrastructure.

Downtime thinks this is a great idea, albeit only in the research phase, but it seems that convenience in the modern world all comes at the price of being tracked every minute of every day. The Orwellian world may be closer at hand than we think.


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