FEB 26, 2014 9:38pm ET

Related Links

Big Data and Analytics Will Increase Revenue Growth in Retail
August 21, 2014
Big Data Technologies Essential for Internet of Things
August 20, 2014
Quorum, Zettaset, Others Announce New or Updated Products
August 15, 2014

Web Seminars

Attract and Keep Shoppers with Product Information Management
August 21, 2014
Why Data Virtualization Can Save the Data Warehouse
September 17, 2014
Essential Guide to Using Data Virtualization for Big Data Analytics
September 24, 2014
commentary

Get Ready for Big Data to Take the Wheel: Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Print
Reprints
Email

(Bloomberg) -- The development of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s made the car the preferred individual mode of ground transportation. This upended residential patterns, creating suburbs and exurbs, and relegated rail to the background.

Sixty years later, however, America has changed. City centers have been revitalized and are once again desirable residential areas. Traffic congestion and pollution are recognized as significant problems, as is the inability to evacuate cities in an emergency. Car-sharing and bike-sharing are on the rise. And technology is in the early stages of reinventing roads in ways that can save lives, cut costs, raise revenue, reduce congestion and build businesses that create jobs of the future. The oldest of infrastructure -- the Romans built roads -- will soon begin to offer a very different experience.

Flying cars (the Massachusetts start-up Terrafugia is working on it) still seem a distant prospect, but new vehicle technology is rapidly taking hold. Google Inc. is testing driverless cars on select roads in California. BMW and Audi showcased their latest autonomous electric vehicle models at the January Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mercedes-Benz's self-driving S-class sedan began to be tested on German city streets in September, thanks to a more hospitable European regulatory environment, which already allows automated steering up to certain speeds, as long as drivers can override it. A Department of Transportation project with major U.S. auto manufacturers is testing use of vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems to improve safety in a fleet of 150 cars that can, for example, keep you in your lane.

Vehicles are beginning to dynamically interact with roads and each other. An estimated 900,000 front-to-rear vehicle crashes per year in the U.S. cause injuries and deaths and cost about $2 billion, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Equipping cars, trucks and buses with sensors and network connections can ensure that vehicles avoid danger, saving lives and money.

Technology is also changing where and when we drive. To bypass traffic congestion, motorists in Minneapolis-St. Paul are willing to pay the hourly equivalent of $60-$120 for use of a High Occupancy Toll lane, which is charged to an electronic pass. The system dynamically changes pricing, depending on time of day and use. It resembles an auction for the use of road space, brought to you by Big Data. You can join similar auctions for road segments in Seattle, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles -– saving time and increasing productivity.

If getting there fast is worth a big premium to you, what are you willing to pay to find the one available parking space within a block of your destination? New companies such as Streetline, ParkMe, Park Assist, ParkingCarma and Parking Panda offer apps enabling you to pay for municipal on-street parking or private off-street parking while sensors direct you to spots via your smartphone. In San Francisco, SFPark tracks open parking spots and sets prices based on demand and availability. Soon these services will communicate directly with your car.

The trend is clear. The Information Superhighway will run the highways and the vehicles on them. We can no longer say, paraphrasing Gertrude Stein, that "a road is a road is a road." The same stretch of fixed, inert roadway can now interact with vehicles and surroundings (e.g., digital billboards) to produce different outcomes at different times, aided by sensors. Weather sensors from Vaisala OYJ can be built into the roadbed. Sensys Traffic AB's traffic monitors go under roads or bridges. Above- ground sensors from Econolite Control Products Inc. integrate cameras and processors. The GPS systems in today’s vehicles use only a fraction of their information capacity.

The big question is whether technology will be the way to address transportation and infrastructure problems? There is much evidence that crumbling roads and bridges have brought the U.S. to the brink of crisis. America has declined in world rankings of infrastructure and transportation, and is now 15th on World Economic Forum indices. Technological innovation is an American strength in international comparisons, but U.S. scores are lower for technology deployment. We're still not using enough of what we invent. But if technology innovations can excite the public imagination, perhaps political will could be aroused, too.

Moving people and goods won’t happen without moving information. Yet companies in those about-to-be interdependent industries rarely communicate. America needs a cross-sector, cross-industry discussion involving entrepreneurs, large manufacturers and visionary public leaders to identify priorities and advocate for change. Although I'm reluctant to call for another commission that goes nowhere, at least the members could let their cars do the driving and find parking.

Get access to this article and thousands more...

All Information Management articles are archived after 7 days. REGISTER NOW for unlimited access to all recently archived articles, as well as thousands of searchable stories. Registered Members also gain access to:

  • Full access to information-management.com including all searchable archived content
  • Exclusive E-Newsletters delivering the latest headlines to your inbox
  • Access to White Papers, Web Seminars, and Blog Discussions
  • Discounts to upcoming conferences & events
  • Uninterrupted access to all sponsored content, and MORE!

Already Registered?

Filed under:

Advertisement

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

Add Your Comments:
You must be registered to post a comment.
Not Registered?
You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.
Already registered? Log in here
Please note you must now log in with your email address and password.
Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Login  |  My Account  |  White Papers  |  Web Seminars  |  Events |  Newsletters |  eBooks
FOLLOW US
Please note you must now log in with your email address and password.