Can interactive technology ease urban traffic jams?

May 26, 2020

Traffic congestion is a serious problem in the United States, but a new analysis shows that interactive technology - ranging from 511 traffic information systems and roadside cameras to traffic apps like Waze and Google Maps - is helping in cities that use it.

Potentially, the researchers said, technology could limit the need to widen and expand roadways while saving commuters time and money and lessening environmental damage.

"Technology has the potential to help society, and one way is to help us make better infrastructure decisions and put less pressure on roads," said Paul A. Pavlou, dean of the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston and corresponding author for the report, published by the journal Information Systems Research.

Pavlou and colleagues Aaron Cheng of the London School of Economics and Min-Seok Pang of Temple University found that U.S. cities using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) saved money, time and other resources, including: The researchers analyzed longitudinal data from ITS technologies deployed in 99 urban areas in the United States from 1994 to 2014. That included the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York-Newark, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and Washington D.C., among others.

Pavlou noted that technology has advanced - and traffic has continued to grow - since 2014, the latest year in the dataset used for the research, making it likely that today's savings would be greater.

The U.S. Department of Transportation describes ITS as "an integrated system of advanced communications technologies embedded in the transportation infrastructure and in vehicles to improve transportation safety and mobility," and has awarded grants to cities to invest in the technologies. Technologies included in the research include both those developed by DOT and commercial technologies designed to improve traffic safety and mobility.

The researchers found that the technology is most effective at reducing traffic congestion when two things happen: commuters use more online services for traffic information, including such apps as Waze, and when state governments incorporate more advanced functions into their 511 traveler information systems.

But each city is different. Pavlou noted that while Houston has not adopted the 511 system, it does collaborate with private companies to design and build intelligent transportation systems, including messaging signs, roadside cameras and solar-powered radar detection sites.

Pavlou said the study suggests alternatives to simply building more and bigger roads to keep up with population and traffic growth. Using large-scale technology systems in conjunction with real-time traffic apps at the individual level is less expensive and more effective than only spending funds to expand and maintain roadways, he said . Houston traffic and its freeway system, for example, have grown significantly since he was a student here in the 1990s, he said. "Traffic is even worse than before since people move where the roads are built and drive more. The city is growing, but there are alternative ways that do not impose some much demand on roads with the intelligent use of technology in parallel."

University of Houston

Related Technology Articles from Brightsurf:

December issue SLAS Technology features 'advances in technology to address COVID-19'
The December issue of SLAS Technology is a special collection featuring the cover article, ''Advances in Technology to Address COVID-19'' by editors Edward Kai-Hua Chow, Ph.D., (National University of Singapore), Pak Kin Wong, Ph.D., (The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA) and Xianting Ding, Ph.D., (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China).

October issue SLAS Technology now available
The October issue of SLAS Technology features the cover article, 'Role of Digital Microfl-uidics in Enabling Access to Laboratory Automation and Making Biology Programmable' by Varun B.

Robot technology for everyone or only for the average person?
Robot technology is being used more and more in health rehabilitation and in working life.

Novel biomarker technology for cancer diagnostics
A new way of identifying cancer biomarkers has been developed by researchers at Lund University in Sweden.

Technology innovation for neurology
TU Graz researcher Francesco Greco has developed ultra-light tattoo electrodes that are hardly noticeable on the skin and make long-term measurements of brain activity cheaper and easier.

April's SLAS Technology is now available
April's Edition of SLAS Technology Features Cover Article, 'CURATE.AI: Optimizing Personalized Medicine with Artificial Intelligence'.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Post-lithium technology
Next-generation batteries will probably see the replacement of lithium ions by more abundant and environmentally benign alkali metal or multivalent ions.

Rethinking the role of technology in the classroom
Introducing tablets and laptops to the classroom has certain educational virtues, according to Annahita Ball, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, but her research suggests that tech has its limitations as well.

The science and technology of FAST
The Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), located in a radio quiet zone, with the targets (e.g., radio pulsars and neutron stars, galactic and extragalactic 21-cm HI emission).

Read More: Technology News and Technology Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to