An App that Sees and Prevents Future Traffic Jams - Technology - GOOD
Anyone’s smartphone can caculate the shortest distance between two places and even recommend a route to avoid traffic along the way. But what about an app that helps prevent traffic jams before they begin? That’s the premise of Greenway, a new program for Windows Phone that plugs its users’ locations, destinations, and speeds into an algorithm to figure out where and when traffic jams are likely to occur. Then, it provides a route to steer cars away from those roads. The route is called, appopriately, the “Greenway,” and it’s optimized for traffic, time, and the amount of gas used based on data about where other drivers are headed at the same time.
As cofounder Christian Brüggemann told Technology Review, the app factors in data about a street, like the number of lanes and speed limit, to calculate the maximum number of vehicles it can handle before bottlenecks. Then the app redirects cars from busy streets so they don’t tip past their carrying capacity. A Greenway user’s phone will send updates to Greenway almost constantly so the app can redirect on-the-fly if its led a driver into a jam.
So far, the approach seems to be working. In a computer simulation of 50,000 cars, Greenway users show up at their destinations twice as fast as non-users. And they only burn up one fifth of the fuel. In Munich, a pilot group of a few dozen drivers is trying it out in real life.