IBM Is Working To Make Your Drive Faster & More Personalized

February 25, 2010


2011 Jaguar XJ

2011 Jaguar XJ

2011 Jaguar XJL Supercharged Neiman Marcus Edition

2011 Jaguar XJL Supercharged Neiman Marcus Edition

Traffic congestion isn't just annoying, it's wasteful. Every year, American drivers fritter away nearly a week of their lives and 26 gallons of gas while stuck on crowded roads. All told, that's enough fuel to fill 58 supertankers. Thankfully, IBM's industrious team of scientists are working on a system that will soon provide highly personalized transportation suggestions, allowing those who use it to travel more quickly and efficiently.

"But wait," you say, "doesn't my satnav already do that?" Well, it does and it doesn't. Most satellite navigation systems -- including advanced models like the one in the 2011 Jaguar XJ and even some found on the iPhone --  rely on a traffic data service like INRIX to generate driving suggestions or to give a rough idea of how long a commute might take.

The IBM system does that, too, but it relies on significantly more sources of data. In essence, it aggregates up-to-the-minute information on traffic, weather, police activity, and so on, then combines that data with factors like the time of day, the day of the week, and local traffic patterns to get drivers where they need to be as quickly as possible. If the system expects a commute to take too long, it can suggest alternate methods of transport, like buses and ferries. And if users opt for public transportation, it can even tell them whether the trains are running on time. In short, IBM has combined predictive modeling with real-time information to create something more than a just a driving tool: it's a travel tool.

IBM is planning a handful of pilot programs to test the system in markets around the U.S. The data will be available to program participants online (useful before commuters leave their homes) and on a range of mobile devices.

In conjunction with all this, IBM is launching something called the Travel and Transportation Center of Competency. (Sounds a little Stalin-esque, no?) The Center of Competency will use data from IBM's travel system to provide transport solutions for businesses. For example, folks from IBM used data modeling to help COSCO reduce shipping and logistics expenses by 23% and cut CO2 emissions by 15%. Properly deployed, IBM may have just found itself a very nice new profit center.

For full details, check the press release below or visit IBM's Smarter Planet site.


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IBM Scientists Use Analytics to Break Traffic Gridlock With Personalized Trip Information Opens New Center for Smarter Transportation Systems

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- At a smarter transportation-focused event today in Washington, D.C., IBM ( IBM) announced a new research initiative to build personalized travel routes for commuters to avoid traffic gridlock. IBM researchers are using advanced analytics to develop adaptive traffic systems that will intuitively learn traveler patterns and behavior to provide more dynamic travel safety and route information to travelers than is available today.

IBM researchers are developing new models that will predict the outcomes of varying transportation routes to provide a personalized recommendation that get commuters where they need to go in the fastest time. This project intends to provide information that goes well beyond traditional traffic reports, after-the fact devices that only indicate where you are already located in a traffic jam, and web-based applications that give estimated travel time in traffic.

Using new mathematical models and IBM's predictive analytics technologies, the researchers will analyze and combine multiple possible scenarios that can affect commuters to deliver the best routes for daily travel, including many factors, such as traffic accidents, commuter's location, current and planned road construction, most traveled days of the week, expected work start times, local events that may impact traffic, alternate options of transportation such as rail or ferries, parking availability and weather.

Working with state and local transportation agencies, IBM plans to launch pilot projects for select sets of commuters to analyze, test and refine the new systems. IBM plans to provide program participants with the personalized commuting information via the web, through mobile voice interaction, combined with advanced mapping applications on mobile devices.

For example, combining predictive analytics with real-time information about current travel congestion from sensors and other data, the system could recommend better ways to get to a destination, such as how to get to a nearby mass transit hub, whether the train is predicted to be on time, and whether parking is predicted to be available at the train station. New systems can learn from regular travel patterns where you are likely to go and then integrate all available data and prediction models to pinpoint the best route.

Insight from IBM's analytics and pilot programs will help transportation agencies better understand and manage traffic, increasing safety on our roads and encouraging the use of efficient public transportation which will help reduce a commuter's overall carbon output.

"The data exists to give commuters and transportation agencies a better way to manage traffic but today it's not connected," said Gerry Mooney, General Manager, Public Sector, IBM. "IBM has the ability correlate all of this information to better predict demand, optimize capacity help improve traveler and highway safety as well as reduce our impact on the environment."

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, U.S. traffic congestion burns enough fuel every year to fill 58 supertankers and wastes enough time to consume 105 million weeks of vacation. Each one of us wastes nearly a week's worth of time and 26 gallons of ever-more-costly fuel.

Additionally, IBM is launching a new global virtual Travel and Transportation Center of Competency which will provide new solutions and deep industry expertise for air, rail, truck, and sea transportation.

IBM is assembling top consultants, software, and technology specialists on a new team who will work with clients and share the best solutions worldwide. The Center of Competency will work closely with IBM Research, one of the world's most recognized research organizations, with IBM's software labs and Business Analytics centers. The center's team will work directly with clients on ground-breaking projects to help them align capacity with demand, improve customer service, increase efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and assure safe transportation.

For example, IBM consultants helped shipping giant COSCO lower logistics cost by 23 percent and reduce CO2 emissions by 15 percent.  The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation uses IBM software to help achieve 99.15 percent on-time performance, and Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport used IBM's  RFID-based baggage handling system to reduce mishandled baggage by 60 percent, cut the time required to transfer bags between flights, and save operating cost.  Air Canada's new smart phone application, developed by IBM, recently won the Canadian New Media Award for Best Mobile App of 2009. The application makes check-in, electronic boarding-passes, flight information, itinerary changes and other flight information available instantly for travelers on the go.

About IBM

For more information visit

Watch IBM's transportation forum this morning in Washington, D.C. in real time at

Follow the Twitter conversation at @smarterplanet  using the #ibmtransport hashtag

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