A blogger from the Technology Review uncovered a study from the University of Seoul in South Korea that might have exposed the solution to traffic jams.
The concept is actually very simple – the best way to clear up a traffic jam is to ensure that cars leave it more quickly than they arrive.
The study stands on the premise that there are two types of drivers: optimistic, those who leave very little space between them and the car in front, and defensive, those who leave more room than necessary between vehicles.
Traffic jams occur when optimistic and defensive drivers are travelling on the same roads. The mathematical model demonstrates that if there were only optimistic drivers leaving the jam and defensive drivers arriving, the traffic jam would clear up naturally.
The researchers suggest that cars should be equipped with an automated on-board control. It would notify drivers of upcoming traffic jams so that they could gradually slow down and increase their distance from the cars ahead. It would also allow the vehicles leaving the jam to accelerate more quickly using automated cruise control. With vehicles leaving the traffic jam at a faster rate than they arrived, the traffic congestion would dissolve.
This is similar to the experiments conducted during peak traffic times. The speed limit is set at 80 before the traffic jam begins so that traffic moves along, or at least, that a little bottleneck is caused on purpose to avoid creating a bigger one.
In another sphere, Asthmapolis is a medical initiative that has implemented a simple and clever tracking system that uses medication sensors to determine when and where an inhaler is used. This allows for the detection and understanding of asthma attack triggers in real-time, plus it warns users of high-risk zones so that they – and a potential asthma attack – may be avoided.
These examples are just two more indicators of society’s evolution and usage behaviour that will sooner or later result in the collective exploitation of personal data. Both the traffic and asthma cases beg the same question: who owns personal data when it comes to the public good?
Read more from Jean Pascal at A Nos Vies Numériques.