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Using Technology to Combat Traffic

06 May, 2015

Using Technology to Combat Traffic

Big data has a huge amount of potential for a myriad of applications across the globe. A recent venture from Microsoft and a Brazilian university has definitely created a buzz, with developers coming up with a way to use big data to predict traffic jams, before they happen.

In conjunction with the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Microsoft has pioneered a way to predict traffic jams up to one hour in advance. Dubbed ‘The Traffic Prediction Project,’ the venture draws on a plethora of traffic data, from road cameras, transport departments, Bing traffic maps, historical figures and even the social networks of drivers. To power the project, Microsoft is test driving its cutting edge Azure cloud-computing platform. Here’s hoping that its mammoth processing power is enough to process and analyse the terabytes of data.

So why Brazil? In 1998, the National Association of Public Transport revealed that the nation’s traffic problems cost the country a huge $7.2 million a year. Since then, the amount of traffic on Brazillian roads has doubled which makes the country a fantastic partner for the innovative project that could put an end to jams.

While big data has previously been associated with corporate ventures, a new era is on the horizon. Intelligence is continually being used to solve a multitude of global problems, from developing new drugs and fighting fraud to pinpointing traffic jams, before they occur. With global population growth on the horizon, and demographic analysts predicting that the number of city dwellers is set to sky-rocket over the next decade, traffic jam prediction tool are a seriously valuable venture.

traffic jam

The Traffic Prediction Project may seem ambitious but according to Microsoft, the model has already been tested in New York, London, Los Angeles and Chicago. The results were incredible, with Azure boasting prediction accuracy rates of 80%. With even more unexplored data sources yet to come, this could soon rise to 90%.

Without a doubt, developments such as The Traffic Prediction Project reflect the fact that big data and data centre efficiency is the definitive technology of the future. As it expands its reach to other applications, expect to see powerful cloud computing platforms such as Azure used to solve a multitude of global problems, with traffic jams just the beginning. 

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