Thursday, November 4, 2010

On GPS navigators, traffic, and load balancing

I previously expressed concern that, when faced with traffic on the main routes, GPS navigation units would divert all drivers to side streets in a correlated fashion, overwhelming their capacity.

It looks like TomTom is addressing my concern.

In a Traffic Manifesto reported at Directions Magazine, TomTom officials explain:

In the future, when 10% of drivers use TomTom's HD Traffic™ navigation system there will be what experts are calling a 'collective effect'. Essentially, our road networks will start to balance out and we will reduce traffic congestion for everyone.

This is very significant.

TomTom has a viable, cost-effective solution here and now to reduce traffic congestion on a very large scale. This doesn't involve building roads or introducing congestion schemes, but simply making our road flow more efficient. Millions of people driving as a collective will reduce traffic congestion for all.

It looks like they're planning to load-balance our roads. While the announcement is short on technical details, I think this approach holds promise, and I'm pleased to see that TomTom aims to improve traffic conditions for the population in general, and not just for owners of its devices.

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