Texas is known for its wide open spaces and a certain enthusiasm among its citizens for traversing them by automobile. So it’s appropriate that IBM and the Department of Transportation are planning an upgrade for car culture in the Lone Star State. Texas will serve as the test bed for several IBM telematics transportation technologies aimed at easing congestion, reducing accidents, and making painful commutes a thing of the past.
The DOT is interested in rolling out vehicle-to-vehicle technology (known as IntelliDrive) that networks cars and roadways together in a way that they can share information on everything from impending bottlenecks to abrupt lane changes. DOT thinks 76 percent of accidents among the unimpaired could be prevented with such technology in place.
The IBM rollout will not go quite that far, but the DOT sees it as a step in the right direction. At both the state and local level, IBM plans to install road sensors and implement predictive analytics that won’t just monitor traffic in real time but actually project future traffic patterns up to an hour in advance.
For its part, IBM is trying to build on successes overseas and convince officials that its telematics know-how should be implemented nationwide. Finnish officials have praised IBM’s traffic analytics as both time- and money-saving, and IBM would certainly relish the government contracts that might accompany a successful test drive in Texas.
For drivers across the country, the stakes are equally high. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and President Obama are both committed to implementing IntelliDrive technology that would wire our roadways for the 21st century. If IBM succeeds in reducing congestion, pollution, and commute times with its proof-of-concept pilot programs in car-crazy Texas, more U.S. cities and states will likely see similar programs in coming years.