Few things are more frustrating that sitting in stand-still traffic with no obvious reason for the delay ahead. In heavy traffic, it just takes one tap of the brake lights before the ripple effect brings your lane to a screeching halt a few seconds later and a few cars back in line. But traffic isn't just frustrating, it is also expensive!
In the U.S., traffic congestion costs every family about $1,700 each year in wasted fuel and missed working time. But in California, where traffic jams are legendary, those costs skyrocket to $6,000 annually for every household! That's why Microsoft is working on a project to reduce of traffic jams.
It's accurately but uninspiringly called the Traffic Prediction Project. Microsoft's thinking is that if it can predict traffic jams before they happen, it will make it easier for motorists to take alternate routes, public transportation or just stay at home until a lower-traffic time.
To make this prediction, the project pulls in every bit of information it can from government traffic data and road cameras to historic Bing traffic maps and social networking to find patterns. The goal is to predict a jam 15 to 60 minutes before it happens.