TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: Waze data aiding Boston against traffic jams

The traffic-monitoring app’s city partnership may lead to traffic light and signage adjustments

July 09, 2015

Google-owned traffic-monitoring app Waze has aided the city of Boston in cracking down on double parking and now it seems that city officials are hoping to leverage their data to tweak traffic lights and road signs in order to ease chronic traffic jams.

Waze monitors traffic problems by collecting GPS data from users on its network and allows them report things they see along the way, such as broken-down cars or police cruisers waiting to spring a speed trap.

Among the first municipalities to partner with Waze as part of a broader effort by the company to add new data sources to its network, Boston agreed in exchange for traffic data from some 400,000 area users on the Waze network to feed the company information about planned road closings and emergency route changes. Traffic planners were able to immediately use a Waze Web portal with the new data in the city’s traffic management center, which controls more than 500 traffic lights.

Rather than logging onto a website to find out what Waze is reporting, The city now can automatically accumulate Waze data every five minutes, continuously building its database and sloughing off time lost logging into a website.

A pilot project meant to crack down on double-parked cars advantaged Waze data, showing city officials when drivers were reporting cars on the shoulder, aiding the DOT in dispatching bike-riding officers to prompt them to move along. The next big experiment will be the ongoing play in altering traffic signs or the timing of traffic lights.

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