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Data science in travel is one of those fields that few people stop to think about most of the time. In fact, most people probably don’t understand what it means or how it could benefit their lives. This lack of understanding is unfortunate, as researchers in this unique field are working to eliminate the dangers of traffic jams by making them easier to predict and avoid.

How is it possible to use data to predict the random element of a traffic jam? By synthesizing various strains of evidence and coherently presenting them, data scientists can predict when traffic jams occur, where they are likely to happen, and how to avoid them. Here is what you need to know about this groundbreaking concept and how it will benefit you.

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Data Scientists are Looking to Eliminate Traffic Jams

First of all, it’s worth knowing what data science in travel is before delving too far into how it will help reduce traffic jam occurrence. Data science is the study of information to solve a problem. Scientists and research specialists use this information to create patterns of behavior that can help them predict when something will happen. These predictions will vary, based on the nature of the data.

For example, according to this article in Science Dailydata scientists looking to eliminate traffic jams are investigating data surrounding the emergence of traffic jams. They take a look at when they are most likely to occur, including the days of the week and the time of the day. Then, they analyze other elements, such as the areas in which they occur, to better understand how they happen.

In many instances, they are likely to look at the design of the roads in an area and talk to a traffic specialist about how poor road design contributes to congestion. By understanding every possible facet of a traffic jam, these scientists can either eliminate its occurrence or find a way to minimize it.

Scientists around the world are focusing on using this information to create a variety of techniques and pieces of technology that will eliminate the danger of traffic jams. So in what ways is data science in travel working to reduce traffic congestion for you?

How Your Cell Phone May Help

There are many different ways that data science could be used to eliminate traffic jams. One of the most promising is the use of cell phone data to collect valuable information about traffic conditions. A study in Germany equipped the cell phones of hundreds of drivers in the country with a data collection app and gathered vital traffic flow information as they drove.

What they found was that this information could be used to predict potential traffic jams and help drivers avoid them. How does this data science in travel concept work? By identifying where drivers are located, predicting where they are headed, and giving them a better understanding of the traffic conditions in those areas.

The researchers behind this product believed that collecting traffic data in this way could help increase social data on traffic jams, create a more connected driving experience, and reduce travel time, vehicle idling time, and driver fatigue. They believed that these methods could not only help decrease the occurrence of traffic jams but also limit major car accidents.

Cell phone data collection has become increasingly attractive to many data scientists as a potential way of avoiding traffic congestion. However, there are also a large number of specialists in data science in travel who are looking to implement GPS systems as a way of predicting and limiting the impact of traffic jams in an area.

How Will GPS Help?

GPS systems have become one of the most popular ways of traveling because they help plot routes for drivers who have never been to an area. However, data scientists are looking to implement Intelligent GPS Navigation to create a successful way of predicting when traffic jams will occur.

For example, one study used over 500 researchers to create an algorithm for GPS systems that would improve their navigation accuracy by up to 60 percent. Even more importantly, this study was looking to find a way to help drivers stay out of traffic jams. The idea behind this system was to help prevent dangerous congestion by redirecting drivers to less congested routes.

Data science in travel has embraced ideas like this one because they use already existing systems to successfully manage traffic flow. Rather than develop entirely new devices that drivers need to master, focusing on flexible and modern GPS systems provides researchers and data scientists with an easier way to help drivers stay out of dangerous traffic conditions.

One of the primary goals of this study was to learn how to predict traffic congestion on both a short-term and long-term basis. The idea was to create a comprehensive understanding of the flow of traffic in an area using GPS monitoring. This data would then be synthesized to form a complete grasp of how traffic is affecting the area.

Predictions Have Gotten Incredibly Accurate

So just how accurate could data science in travel methods like this be in predicting traffic congestion and jams? More accurate than you might expect. For example, Microsoft and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil have teamed up to create an algorithm that could predict traffic jams by as much as an hour in advance.

Their system, known as the Traffic Prediction Project, is using many of the methods described above to help better understand global patterns in traffic. They are also using data sources as diverse as videos from road cameras, Bing traffic maps, social network posts from drivers, and even accident reports to get a comprehensive and accurate look at the way traffic affects areas of the world.

By using this information, they believe that they can create a precise understanding of traffic patterns and use them to predict traffic jams. Their system would use a variety of information outlets to identify potential congestion and to warn drivers as they are about to form. The time lag would vary, depending on the area, but Microsoft believes prediction times of 15-60 minutes are very possible.

What is intriguing about this potential data science in travel breakthrough is the fact that it uses current information and technology to make these accurate predictions. If it is successful, it could open up the world of data science to even stronger advances in traffic jam predictions.

Possible Future Breakthroughs

Who knows what the future holds for this interesting and potentially life-saving science? Is there a chance that traffic jams could be eliminated from the world entirely? It is a possibility, though it is one that data scientists are understandably not quite ready to confirm just yet. There is still a lot of ground to cover before that happens.

For example, data science in travel methods, such as predictive driving, could identify entertainment events occurring in the area, when people are likely to go to them, when they are likely to get out, and how this would affect traffic. Breakthroughs like this would be essential for people who live in major cities with sports teams or concert venues.

However, many other possible techniques could be used to predict traffic jams. For example, a real-time view of traffic from drones or satellites could give drivers the chance to predict where traffic will get congested and suggest alternative routes around these difficult areas. Breakthroughs like this are promising but are still some time in the future.

Last, but not least, a form of driver communication could be implemented using social media sites. This communication method could let drivers stay in touch with others on their current path. Real-time communication like this would be an essential way of staying in touch and avoiding traffic problems.

In this way, they could learn more about the traffic affecting an area, how thick it is getting, whether a jam is likely to occur, and whether or not they should consider an alternative route around a congested road. Even better, this information could be compiled by data scientists and used to improve data prediction techniques.

Understanding the World of Data Science

The possibilities outlined in this article are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to data science. While it can’t predict the future in a 100 percent accurate way, it can do so in a manner that is surprisingly spot-on. Data scientists are skilled at sorting through important and unimportant pieces of data and using them to create a better understanding of behavior.

While there is still a ways to go before they can predict and prevent traffic jams flawlessly, data scientists are working hard every day to make it a reality. As a result, it is important to stay on top of the latest breakthroughs in this field. With the right advances, it is just possible that data science in travel could eliminate traffic jams forever.

Additional resources:

Data Science Jobs
30 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Degree Programs


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