IBM Wants to Improve Your Commute With Traffic Prediction

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If you’ve ever used a traffic map on a smartphone to find the best way home, you know that it can be pretty unreliable. Road conditions are always changing, and a green line in Google Maps can quickly turn to red, signaling massive congestion.

Enter IBM, which is starting a research project to make commuting easier. The so-called Smarter Traveler project aims to give you the shortest commute possible by predicting traffic before it happens.

As VentureBeat explains, IBM’s initiative combines existing traffic data from road sensors with users’ individual travel histories, gathered from GPS data. Based on this data, a prediction model determines the best route to take and the estimated travel time. Before the commute begins, users can get e-mails and text messages alerting them to potential traffic jams.

As a Los Angeles resident, this sounds like something I want right now. But IBM is only testing the project in the San Francisco Bay Area at the moment, with help from the California Department of Transportation and UC Berkeley. Eventually, the project will become a smartphone app, available to all.

Which begs the question: What happens when the prediction model sends everyone along the same alternative route?