Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Using Sensors to Help Stay Out of Traffic

Portsmouth Council in the United Kingdom has recently started using BlipTrack sensors to collect information on traffic patterns, shortest routes, and travel times. The sensors are laid out throughout the city's most congested roads and the information is sent via Bluetooth and Wifi. I think one of the most important parts mentioned in the article is that the information collected by the sensors is being used to help determine needed road work. The article states "the information collected is so far being used primarily within the council for strategic planning tasks, such as identifying problem areas, learning about the capacity of existing roads..." The council can look at the roads that see the most traffic and examine the roads to determine if work can de done to help reduce traffic. These sensors are allowing the council to see where most problems occur on the road, so that they can address those roads first. The second component I would like to analyze is how the sensors are collecting information that is useful to the economy and the environment. The article states that the sensors collect information, then the information is analyzed by experts, and then the council determines the shortest traveling routes. This could allow consumers to cut their travel times, save on gas, and therefore reduce the total carbon emission from their vehicles. A third component I would like to look further into is how the sensors are collecting information that is useful for everyday use. The sensors collect info on traffic on certain roads, which could help people obtain a more realistic travel time and information on what days roads see the least amount of traffic, which is useful for determining the optimal time for working on the roads. 

I do believe that there were some major factors overlooked in this article. First off, the article mentions that soon the public we be able to access this data on a website, but will the public be able to access the data from their phones too? Or will they have to go onto the site from their computers at home? This is very important because if people cannot access the site while they are driving, then they cannot access the information when they need it the most. I also think that the article didn't discuss whether or not the sensors can be used in small towns too. The only mention of these sensors are in more urban areas. I live in a small town of about 20,000 people, but I still know that on a Saturday I could run into 20 minutes of traffic. And the third factor overlooked was the cost of these sensors. I think it is extremely important to take into account how much these sensors cost. If they're cheap, then I think this could benefit a lot of areas. But if it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would rethink how vital these sensors are.


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