This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
There were thousands of people in that jam. We all knew what was going on and could have informed the thousands more who followed into the same trap. And I’ll be most of us would have done that out of sheer altruism, in the hope that someone else will help us avoid the next jam. Why have we not yet invented systems to capture and share that knowledge? I’ve been plotting this for years: I met with these and other traffic services a decade ago begging them to come up with the means to gather our knowledge of traffic: We could call into numbers that have logged our usual routes and report our conditions and get the conditions ahead. Or we could set up the means to monitor and report the movement of those phones along routes and cell towers. Or we could simply enable people to call a service and leave trouble reports. Anything. But, no, we knew nothing.
This isn’t limited to transit riders, either. When GPS-enabled cars hit a traffic jam — or even when they just notice that the driver is hitting the brakes an awful lot — the car should upload that information to a server or a peer-to-peer network, so that other cars can aggregate the information and plan routes accordingly. The fact that we’re still waiting for the AM radio’s 10-minute traffic updates in this day and age is absurd.