New Transportation Study Says Urban Sprawl Causes Congestion

Driven Apart For years now, The Urban Mobility Report, issued every two years by the Texas Transportation Institute, has been regarded by many transportation and urban planning experts as the ‘bible’ on traffic congestion issues.   The report has been used to justify large road improvement projects throughout the country in an attempt to solve major metropolitan traffic congestion problems.

However, a new report from CEOs for Cities offers a dramatic critique of the 25 year old industry standard created by the Texas Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Report (UMR).  The report provides a new look at traffic congestion and suggests there are additional reasons why  Americans spend so much time in traffic.  The report

The new report titled Driven Apart: How sprawl is lengthening our commutes and why misleading mobility measures are making things worse says the solution to the congestion problem has much more to do with how we build our cities than how we build our roads.  The report says that we need new metrics like 'total trip distance’ and ‘total travel time’, metrics that are not currently in the The Urban Mobility Report.

The report ranks how long residents in the nation’s largest 51 metropolitan areas spend in peak hour traffic, and in some cases the rankings are almost the opposite of those listed in the 2009
Urban Mobility Report.  Here’s a list from the report of the 10 cities (out of the 51 studied) where commuters spend the most time getting to work every day. 

Cities Avg. hours per year in traffic
Detroit – Warren – Livonia 179
Indianapolis – Carmel 166
Louisville / Jefferson County 165
Raleigh – Cary 161
Birmingham – Hoover 159
Oklahoma City 154
St. Louis 153
Memphis 152
Richmond 147
Kansas City 142

The report says that compact cities are the real answer to reducing traffic delays.  The key is to have land use patterns and transportation systems that enable their residents to take
shorter trips and minimize the burden of peak hour travel.   These conclusions are very different than those of the UMR, which has long been used to measure traffic congestion and has been used to justify road improvement projects costing millions of dollars.

It’s nice to have a fresh look at the traffic congestion issue.  Thanks CEO for Cities!

For more information, you can access the report (exec summary AND the detailed report) and supporting press release, graphics, etc. by heading over to

Intelligent Transportation Scenario: Advanced Traveler Information Systems

LONDN023 I’m wondering when in the future will we arrive at a place where there will be open standards for traffic information that will allow us to have Advanced Traveler Information Systems.  

Traffic information is certainly needed by everyone.  That means we need to have it available on all sorts of devices using all sorts of applications.   So why not open standards so the information can be available and used to help us all get from point A to point B in less time and with less frustration/hassle?

I see a future where Advanced Traveler Information Systems are capable of advising travelers of suggested travel route changes due to traffic congestion changes…all in real time.  An integrated system would need to be able to draw real-time information from any type of transportation in the region, then process that information against the traveler’s requests/needs,  then provide that information back to the traveler in the format needed for the traveler’s device and application.

Here is a scenario….

Monday evening

1. Jack receives an email from his global head of marketing that an important client will be visiting London to discuss a new deal. Jack is to host dinner for the global client on Friday evening at Nobu in London.

2. Jack books a table over the Internet for 1900 on Friday and puts the details into his Lotus Calendar.


10:00 – The day has not started well: Jack is in back-to-back meetings the entire day with some client issues.

17:30 – Jack’s online calendar reminds him of the dinner and alerts him of his travel options based on reaching the restaurant by 1900:

  1. Taxi: due to ongoing road works on the route, there is a bad traffic jam along the route – he would need to leave the office by 1800. The estimated cost was £25.
  2. Bus: as there were bus lanes throughout the route, the road works would not impact the journey too significantly – he would need to leave the office by 1810. The cost would be £2.
  3. Tube & walking: the Piccadilly line was currently on schedule; he would need to start walking to the Tube by 1815. The cost would be £3.

The application on Jack’s smartphone recommends that Jack go with option 4:  Tube and walking.

18:20  -  On Jack’s walk to the Tube, his smartphone alerts him of a security incident on the Bakerloo Tube line. If he were to continue with the planned route, he would arrive at the restaurant only at 1945. It advises him to change his route by walking to the nearest bus stop. The bus route would get him to the restaurant at 1910.

19:10 – Jack arrives at the restaurant slightly late but thankfully his guest has not yet arrived – the guest took a taxi and was caught in a traffic jam!

The successful outcome in the scenario above is dependent on open transportation information standards and Advanced Traveler Information Systems, including

  • An extensive sensor-based transportation system operating in the region where real-time information is collected on every type of transportation available to the traveler
  • An back office analytics-rich system capable of analyzing the millions of transactions coming into the system for each mode of transportation
  • Applications available on personal mobile handheld devices capable of interacting with the regional Advanced Traveler Information System.  The mobile application needs to be able to become an agent for the person, acting on stored personal preferences, the calendar for the day, and the real-time information available from the regional system.

IBM: 5 Innovations That Will Impact Us Within 5 Years

IBM 5 in 5 The world is experiencing unprecedented urbanization.  Last year marked the first time in history that the majority of the world’s population was residing in cities.  This trend is not stopping and will have huge implications for our large urban environments we call home.  So what can be done to make our cities economically, socially and technologically healthy–and keep them that way?

IBM recently unveiled a list of 5 innovations that will have the potential to change how people live, work and play in cities around the globe over the next five years.  The following text provides a summary and there is a 3 minute video embedded below…

IBM’s Next 5 in 5…

1) Cities will have healthier immune systems:  Because of population densities, cities will remain hotbeds of communicable diseases.  By standardizing methods for sharing health information and analyzing disease outbreaks, public health officials will know precisely when, where and how diseases are spreading.

2) City buildings will sense and respond like living organisms:   The technology that manages building facilities "will operate like a living organism that can sense and respond quickly." Thousands of sensors inside buildings will monitor everything from motion and temperature to humidity, occupancy and light.  These smart buildings will enable repairs to be made before something breaks, will help emergency units respond quickly, and will let people and companies monitor their energy consumption and carbon emission in real-time.

3) Cars and city buses will run on empty:   IBM predicts that improved battery technology will power the next generation of eco-friendly vehicles. It says the new batteries won’t need to be recharged for days or months at a time (depending on how often the vehicles are driven) and will allow trips of 300 to 500 miles on a single charge.  Also smart grids in cities will allow vehicles to be charged in public places using renewable energy, such as wind power, for charging so they no longer rely on coal-powered plants.

4) Smarter systems will quench cities' thirst for water and save energy:  To deal with the estimate that demand for water is expected to increase sixfold in the next 50 years cities will install smarter water systems to reduce water waste by up to 50 percent.  Smart sewer systems will also be installed that not only prevent run-off pollution in rivers and lakes, but purify water to make it drinkable.  Plus, interactive meters and sensors will provide people with real time, accurate information about their water consumption. 

5) Cities will respond to a crisis:  Even before receiving an emergency phone call. In support of the news:  IBM is helping law enforcement agencies analyze information so they can anticipate crime and be ready to respond when it happens.  Also the New York Fire Department has selected IBM to build a state-of-the-art system for collecting and sharing data in real-time and the company is also designing smart levee systems to prevent cities from devastating floods. 

A common denominator in all five of these innovations is a sophisticated data analytics capability that can take volumes of data, perform modeling and simulation on that data, and turn it into actionable insights for decision makers.  Five years could be an optimistic time frame for a few of these, but in this case, I think a little optimism helps to push the envelope on research and development of the innovations.

Watch the 3 minute video….

Read up more on IBM’s Next 5 in 5

10 Social Media Tools to Navigate Your City

Today out on the Building a Smarter Planet blog (, there is a post by Josh Catone from Mashable titled Smarter Transportation: 10 Social Media Tools to Navigate Your City.  The post contains Josh’s list of social media sites that can help you plan routes from one location in a city to another.  The tools each have their own unique features and benefits….each is different in their own way. 

Here is my summary of Josh’s ten top tools. 

  1. Google Maps  We all know this tool for driving, but did you know it can help you plan a walking route too?  It can also help you find those Starbuck’s along your route.  But Google also offers even more features, like real-time traffic conditions.
  2. Waze  Waze specializes in real-time traffic information, collecting that information from it’s users.
  3. Wayfaring  Another Google Maps mashup, Wayfaring focuses on having users share experiences they had during their trip.
  4. Walk Score     For those people really into walking.  It tells you how ‘walk-friendly’ your route is going to be.
  5. MapMyRide   For those who love to ride bikes, this helps you preview that next ride.  It will even estimate the calories you will burn.
  6. HopStop  If you are into public transportation (trains, buses, subways, etc.) check out this tool. 
  7. Zimride   Josh likes this carpooling tool, which is cleverly integrated with Facebook.  If you are into carpooling, you might also want to check out iCarpool
  8. RideCharge   This tool helps you pre-book a taxi ride via your mobile device.
  9. GasBuddy   This tool delivers up-to-date gas prices, so you can plan out where to get that tank filled-up along your route.
  10. FuelFrog   This site helps you monitor how your car consumes gas, helping you learn how to reduce your fuel consumption.

For much more discussion of these tools, plus links to others, check out Josh’s post at

iCarpool wins the $50K Intelligent Transportation Systems Challenge

iCarpool I have previously blogged about the $50,000 Intelligent Transportation Traffic Challenge, well, the results are in and a winner has been announced. 

Earlier this summer, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America),  in partnership with IBM and Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations, launched a global challenge to identify innovative ideas for combating transportation congestion, and to find and fund a solution or start-up that can reduce environmental impact, strengthen economic productivity, move people more efficiently or prevent accidents.

The competition attracted 120 start-ups and solutions from 20 countries, and this was whittled down to nine finalists.

The winner, announced during an IBM session at the 16th ITS World Congress in Stockholm, was iCarpool (  iCarpool received a cash prize of $50,000 as well as development and implementation support to pursue turning their innovative ideas into real-world solutions.

Millions of people drive alone for commute, long distance trips or personal trips such as a shopping trip or an event.  iCarpool’s idea is an internet-based service  that offers one site for carpooling, which can result in substantial monetary savings by sharing fuel, toll and parking costs. It says it is building infrastructure which provides one multi-modal view with the best options other than driving alone.   Unlike a rideshare bulletin board, carpool listing service or zip code matching service, iCarpool uses high precision trip matching to find the best carpool match.

Check it out at

Another Study Confirms Los Angeles Is Most Congested City In America

Just yesterday, I blogged about an IBM study that found that Los Angeles causes commuters ‘the most pain’.  Check out that post:  Los Angeles is Most Painful For Commuters.    For today’s post, I found another study that confirms the IBM study’s findings that L.A. is the most congested study. 

INRIX, a leading provider of traffic and navigation services in North America, recently announced their mid-year INRIX National Traffic Scorecard special report.  The report findings confirm that traffic congestion across the country is rising due to signs of economic recovery, initial rollouts of highway construction projects funded by federal stimulus packages, and lower fuel prices.  

The data for the INRIX study comes, in part, from tens of billions of data points from INRIX's network of over one million GPS-enabled cars and trucks traveling across nearly one million miles of roads.

INRIX analyzed and ranked the worst metro traffic bottlenecks across the country and found that New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago continued to
dominate the rankings in commuting nightmares.  According to the report, the top 10 most congested cities in the first half of 2009 were:

  1. Los Angeles, Calif.
  2. New York, N.Y.
  3. Chicago, Ill.
  4. Washington, D.C. (from 5th in first half of 2008)
  5. Dallas, Texas (from 4th in first half of 2008)
  6. Houston, Texas
  7. San Francisco, Calif.
  8. Boston, Mass.
  9. Seattle, Wash.
  10. Philadelphia, Pa.

Comparing to the IBM study I blogged about yesterday, the top cities causing ‘Commuter Pain’ on that list are 1) Los Angeles, 2) Washington, D.C., and 3) Miami.  It’s interesting to note that Miami did not even make the INRIX top 10.  Perhaps the commuters in Miami get easily frustrated by traffic?  🙂

The INRIX report also provides information on commercial freight traffic concentration.   Findings show that while the nation's busiest long haul freight roadways cut across 28 states, more than 95% of this mileage comes from just 10 states – including Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas.

For more information about this report,  see the complete National Traffic Scorecard, visit: and to view videos about the report go to

Los Angeles Traffic Congestion Is Most Painful For Commuters

Despite some small improvements in traffic congestion, mostly due to the nationwide recession, commuting is still a stressful and frustrating experience for drivers.  A few weeks ago, IBM released its second annual IBM Commuter Pain survey results.  The survey found that Los Angeles commuters experience the most frustration/stress (‘pain’) during their commute time.  Los Angeles ranked at the top of the commuter pain index, ahead of Washington DC, Miami, Chicago and Boston.

The Commuter Pain Survey was conducted by IBM to better understand consumer thinking toward traffic congestion as the issue reaches crisis proportions nationwide and higher levels of auto emissions stir environmental concerns.  These events are impacting communities in the U.S. and abroad, where governments, citizens and private sector organizations are looking beyond traditional remedies like additional roads and greater access to public transportation to reverse the negative impacts of increased road congestion.

The survey was fielded by Survey Sampling International (SSI) and 4,446 consumers responded — at least 400 in each city. 

Embedded in the results of the study was IBM’s Commuter Pain Index which attempts to find out which major American cities suffer the most from traffic congestion and lack of urban mobility.  The index is derived from the survey scores for each city on ten key issues:

  1. Commuting time,
  2. Time stuck in traffic,
  3. Value of time,
  4. Agreement that traffic has gotten worse,
  5. Agreement that start-stop traffic is a problem,
  6. Agreement that driving causes stress,
  7. Agreement that driving causes anger,
  8. Agreement that traffic affects work,
  9. Agreement that traffic so bad driving stopped, and
  10. Agreement that decided not to make trip due to traffic.

As a result of the information collected on the ten issues indicated above, the top ten 'worst cities’ for Commuter Pain are, in order:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Miami
  4. Chicago
  5. Boston
  6. New York
  7. Atlanta
  8. San Francisco
  9. Dallas/FW
  10. Minneapolis/St. Paul

For the complete report, please click here:

Sensors: Where Do We Need Them The Most?


LinkedIn has an app that allows you to create a quick one question poll.

I am inviting you to participate in an unofficial poll I set up by going to  The poll takes less than a minute.  It asks you for your opinion on where you feel we need to focus the application of sensors to help make our physical infrastructure more intelligent. 

Sensors are becoming a key part of our physical infrastructure.  We can now embed sensors in physical things, like cars, appliances, medical equipment, cameras, roadways, pipelines, pharmaceuticals or livestock.  We can measure entire ecosystems – whole supply chains, business processes, cities, bridges, buildings, even natural systems like forests and rivers.  With sensors, we will be able to gather huge amounts of real-time information about the state of the world.

So, I have set up a LinkedIn poll to get your feedback.  I am asking you to answer the question:  Where do we need sensors and the related data analytics applied the most? 

Thanks for participating.  Those that answer the question can see the results.

Friday Gadget: i-Real Personal Mobility Device

toyota-irealToyota has been experimenting with Personal Mobility devices for some time (i-unit and i-swing concepts).  Their latest prototype is called i-REAL.  It is a personal mobility vehicle which uses three wheels (two at the front and one at the back).  The ‘driver’ sits in a chair when operating the i-Real.

It operates in both low-speed and high-speed modes.  When operating in low-speed mode, it shortens its wheelbase to allow it to move naturally among pedestrians (and at a similar eyesight height) without taking up a large amount of sidewalk space.  In high-speed mode, the wheelbase lengthens to provide a lower center of gravity and better driving performance.  The i-Real is like a three-wheeler Segway and hits 20mph.

Watch the 4 minute video from BBC here.  Interesting part of demo starts about 2 minutes into the video.

Toyota says the i-REAL ensures safe handling [both to the driver and those around the vehicle] by employing perimeter monitoring sensors to detect whenever a collision with a person or object is imminent.  It alerts the driver through noise and vibrations and alerts people around it of its movements through the use of light and sound.   The i-Real concept car is designed to communicate with other i-Reals, allowing you to find and navigate to them on command.

Update: Final Days Of The $50k ITS Congestion Challenge

A couple of months ago, I posted 50k ITS Congestion Challenge which provided an overview of the current ITS Congestion Challenge.

To review…on June 1, 2009, The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), in partnership with IBM and Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), has launched a global challenge to identify innovative ideas for combating transportation congestion.

Here’s a quick update on what has happened since.  More than 5000 community members have participated with the nomination of nearly 100 solutions.  The team judging the entries have narrowed the list down to 9 solutions, with the final winner to be identified on August 31.  

You still have time to participate in the discussion and voting.  You need to register at  It takes less than a minute.

Of the nine left, here’s five that I feel rise to the top.  

Skymeter Corp  Skymeter: provides smart meters for cars and trucks that produce data needed to migrate roads and parking from taxpayer-subsidized to pay-per-use.  The results can be fantastic…cutting city-wide emissions by 15%, traffic by 30% and enabling better mobility. 

Precyse Tech.  Precyse:  develops, manufactures and markets wireless-based systems for locating, identifying, monitoring and communicating with physical assets.  In this case, it’s vehicles …and the data coming back from those vehicles can help solve traffic congestion.

Intellione.comIntellione:  solution that uses mobile handsets as traffic probes in order to deliver data to solve traffic congestion.   Watch the video here:

iCone Products ICone:   solution that can mark and monitor highway work-zones so easily and so affordably that the conditions at every work-zone can be known to the traveling public. 

GCDC  Grand Cooperative Driving Challenge (GCDC):  Competition that demonstrates what cooperative driving technologies can do to reduce the incidence of traffic jams, minimize CO2 emissions and prevent accidents on the road, based on state-of-the-art technology.


For more on these solutions and to vote for them…go to, register, then VOTE"!  It takes a few minutes, but will help us all make progress in the search for traffic congestion solutions.

$50k ITS Congestion Challenge

Have an innovative idea on how to solve traffic congestion?   The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), in partnership with IBM and Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), has launched a global challenge to identify innovative ideas for combating transportation congestion.

ITS America is challenging commuters, transportation experts, entrepreneurs and academic researchers to come up with the best ideas to reduce traffic congestion and lessen its economic and environmental impact.

At stake is a $50,000 prize presented at the 16th World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems in Stockholm, Sweden, this September.  The winner will also receive the development support needed to put his or her idea to work.

Winning ideas are expected to focus on the following five areas:

  1. Speed and efficiency:  Using technology to reduce delays and transport people and goods efficiently and reliably.
  2. Behavioral impact:  Innovative ways to convince users to choose options that reduce congestion.
  3. Safety:  Preventing accidents, improving incident response and providing more timely, accurate transportation information.
  4. Sustainability:  Lowering energy use and emissions while actively managing traffic and reducing congestion.
  5. Economic competitiveness: Improve productivity through new technologies (e.g., wireless applications and mobility tools).

For additional information and to enter submissions, visit Join the ITS Congestion Challenge

Stockholm: 2009 Intelligent Community of the Year

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) recently named Stockholm, Sweden the Intelligent Community of the Year for 2009.  The Scandanavian community, known for its prowess in innovative technologies and its quality of life won the 2009 award.  A detailed profile of Stockholm and why it was selected for the award can be found at this ICF website.

It’s nice to see Stockholm get this award, especially since IBM has been deeply involved in the city’s Intelligent Transportation initiatives.

Since 1999, ICF has presented awards to honor the achievements of communities tackling the complex task of building and maintaining competitive and inclusive local economies in the global Broadband Economy.   The ICF is a think tank that “focuses on the creation of prosperous local economies and robust societies in the broadband economy of the 21st Century”.  The goal of the yearly awards is to increase awareness of the role that broadband and information communications technology (ICT) play in economic and social development at the community level worldwide.

Earlier this year, the ICF had announced their annual list of The Top Seven Intelligent Cities of 2009.  These seven finalists were selected based on analysis of their nominations by a team of independent academic experts.  The academic team  conducts a thorough review of the nominations and generate quantitative scores during the selection process.   These cities have proactively re-engineered their economies and social networks to make them more flexible and adaptable, which gives them a powerful competitive advantage.  The top seven communities are chosen, not because they excel in all areas of ICF's Intellligent Community Indicators, but because each demonstrates excellence in at least one. 


The Top Seven cities of 2009 were:

  • Bristol, Virginia, USA. Bristol has made an impact after taking on incumbent telcos in court and the state legislature to win the right to deploy a fiber network called OptiNet.  OptiNet will become a fiber-to-the-premises network for business and residents in Bristol and four neighboring counties.  It has attracted more than $50 million in private investment, including the region's first technology employers, and improved rural education and healthcare by connecting local providers to leading institutions.   
  • Eindhoven, Netherlands.  Established a public-private collaboration called Brainport. Among more than 40 public-private projects are an award-winning coop that has brought FTTP and a broadband culture of use to the suburb of Neunen, and the SKOOL outsourced IT management system for public schools.
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.  When it could not get broadband from the private sector, Fredericton founded the e-Novations co-op, which deployed a fiber ring that spurred competition, giving the city a 70% penetration rate at speeds of up to 18 Mbps.  The next step was the Fred-eZone wireless network, which provides free WiFi service across 65% of the city.  The combination of broadband, entrepreneurship and Fredericton's universities has powered the creation of over 12,000 jobs.
  • Issy-les-Moulineaux, France.  Beginning in 1980, a visionary mayor focused policy on creating an innovative, IT-based knowledge economy, implementing e-government, outsourcing IT needs, and taking advantage of liberalization to attract competitive fiber carriers deploying cost-effective broadband.  Public-private innovation includes a cyber-kindergarten for children, cyber tearooms for older citizens, citizen e-participation in decision-making, a successful business incubator and ICT-based real estate projects.
  • Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. This bilingual community has become a major Canadian customer contact and back office center, and built a "near-shore" IT outsourcing industry.   Private-sector carriers have collaborated in the city's growth as a telecom-centric economy, and helped power the addition of 20,000 new jobs since the early 1990s.  
  • Stockholm, Sweden. In the mid-90s, Stockholm, the economic and political capital of Sweden, established a company called Stokab to build an open-access fiber network.  Today, the 4,500 km network connects more than 90 competing service providers to government and business customers.  Though the city already has a 98% broadband penetration rate, Stokab will also provide FTTP access to over 95,000 low-income households in public housing by the end of 2009.  Stockholm also manages KISTA Science City, housing more than 1,400 companies, plus a support program for start-up and early-stage companies.  
  • Tallinn, Estonia.   Making creative use of people and funding, Tallinn computerized its schools and deployed widespread WiFi as well as nearly 700 public access kiosks.  The city also developed a large-scale digital skills training program, extensive e-government, and an award-winning smart ID card.  Through partnerships, it developed high-tech parks including Ulemiste City, Tallinn Technology Park and Cooperative Cyber Defense Center. 

For more see this ICF website.  Also check out the videos here View Top7 Video

For those of you working on projects related to Smart Cities, you might also want to spend time reading the 49 page white paper “The Top Seven Intelligent Communities of 2009”