GeoWorld August 2011

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BY NICK COHN A Universal Need for Traffic Speeds and Travel Times ountries and people worldwide are affected by increasing car ownership and traffic vol- umes, which lead to increasingly intensifying congestion problems on the global road network. In the world of business, traffic congestion is responsible for the loss of billions in productivity. Its impact on the environment, in terms of additional CO2 emissions and increased fuel consumption, also is huge. The traffic congestion issue isn't a secret. There are more cars and more demand than road capacity, but traffic congestion can't be solved by just building more roads. And although there have been attempts to help reduce cars on the road, better use of the existing road network must be part of the solution. Because traffic congestion has a negative impact on the economy and environment, the topic is being given a high profile for attention at relevant regional and national government agencies. Addressing the causes is time consuming and expensive; detailed and reliable decision-making support tools are required so experts and policymakers can make timely and 26 GEO W ORLD / AUGUST 2O11 cost-effective decisions that lead to positive changes to local traffic-management programs. These experts need accurate and comprehensive information about travel times, traffic speeds, and local accessibility and travel patterns—the basic building blocks for forming a cohesive traffic-management plan. In addition to government organizations, traffic data also are valuable for commercial organizations. Property developers, market-research firms, outdoor advertising agencies, planning and engineering firms, and others always are in search of reliable information about what's happening on the road network. Traffic data can be used for the following activities, among others: • Network performance monitoring • Road-network bottleneck reporting • Noise and emission hotspot identification • Before-and-after studies of changes in road infrastructure • Location choice based on accessibility measures • Intersection-performance analysis and traffic- signal and design optimization Vehicle Management

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