Not surprising considering its population size, New York City consistently ranks in the top ten U.S. cities with the worst traffic. Congestion in the streets is associated with economic losses due to lost hours as wells as increased greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Since 2010, the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) has been controlling traffic in Midtown Manhattan using real-time data and advanced technology, achieving a 10 percent increase in travel times. Engineers at DOT’s Traffic Management Center identify traffic conditions as they occur based on information from sensors, cameras and EZ-Pass readers that is transmitted on the city’s wireless network. They can react immediately by adjusting Midtown traffic signal patterns remotely via networked Advanced Solid State Traffic Controllers, state-of the-art equipment that requires less maintenance and offers more flexibility than previous generations. The real-time traffic data is furthermore made available to the public and is thereby accessible to motorists as well as app developers. This case study explores the relationship between data and day-to-day, operational decision-making.

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