God forbid the government check with the private sector before spending millions on a pilot program to demonstrate “This cutting-edge technology” called “Crowd Sourced Data” or CSD. INRIX, the largest provider of CSD has been gathering traffic data since 2005. “INRIX began by collecting data from long-haul freight trucks, local delivery trucks, taxi cabs, airport shuttles, etc… equipped with GPS receivers and two-way connectivity.” Fleet vehicles are still a major component of its system. “We provide the traffic information that helps them do next-day planning and plan their routes for all of their vehicles, says Jim Bak Communications Director for INRIX.
This is essentially what Secretary LaHood’s ‘pilot program’ is all about. Working in conjunction with the University of Michigan one hopes there’ll be some collaboration between the private and government sectors rather than work independently of one another. The idea of course is a good one. By equipping vehicles of every sort with GPS antennas and up link transmitters, real time data is disseminated to message boards, and other traffic information centers.
According to NHTSA, CSD based information could help the driving public avoid or reduce the severity of four of five unimpaired vehicle crashes! Obviously these projections are good news, but there are still many obstacles to overcome.
One of the real concerns INRIX has is that “CSD sources will become ubiquitous giving a large percentage of drivers the same routing information.” What you get is moving one congested area to another! Additionally the ability to factor major events such as a football game, or concerts that disrupts traffic patterns needs a process. These are just a few analytic issues that must be dealt with, but they pale in comparison to the daunting task of getting all city, county, state, and federal government agencies to cooperate. In my experience nothing short of a miracle will make that happen.
Not to be too critical though, I suspect this is why the government is proceeding cautiously. To initiate such a wide ranging plan will take the deep pockets only the government can provide. "Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety – but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "NHTSA will use the valuable data from the ‘model deployment' as it decides if and when these connected vehicle safety technologies should be incorporated into the fleet." That’s a load of vehicles!
While CSD technology is in its infancy, current traffic safety programs must continue seeking “zero deaths.” We press on with the three ‘E’s of traffic safety; Education, Engineering, and Enforcement. So until we arrive at “Traffic Nirvana” call us for a TruCam demonstration. After all, TruCam is the final say in ALL enforcement scenarios.
To learn more about the pilot program go to www.safercar.gov/ConnectedVehicles.