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Time Spent Stuck at Traffic Lights Has Numerous Consequences

For all the benefits they offer to public safety, traffic lights bring with them more than their fair share of troubles. In addition to all the time that?s effectively wasted behind the wheel, there?s also the environmental impact to think of.

Depending on which numbers you crunch, the average person will spend nearly half a year of their life waiting for a traffic light to change. That?s it. Almost six months, just sitting in an idle car, staring at a hunk of metal as they wait for its permission to go. Other, more conservative calculations put that time at just over two weeks.

Regardless, that?s a lot of time spent waiting around? and that?s before we even consider the health impacts. One study, conducted back in 2015, showed that particle number concentrations?the number of nanoparticles in the air, like those produced by burning fuel?were 29 times more concentrated at intersections than elsewhere on the road, and that 25% of a commuter?s exposure to pollutants during their drive was accumulated at stoplights. Half of the emissions produced at these intersections came from vehicles stopping and starting, specifically.

So, in addition to being a frustration to many on the road, stoplights are also actively bad for the health of drivers and the planet at large.

Enter Google, and Green Light

While numerous options exist that would help to reduce these emissions (like greener fuels, more efficient technologies, and the like), one relatively simple solution that can help make things better is to optimize how our existing traffic control infrastructure directs traffic.

Google has been working to do so through Green Light as part of its Google Research initiatives. By combining artificial intelligence with trends collected from Google Maps, traffic patterns have been more accurately modeled. This gives city engineers the capability to coordinate different intersections more precisely to improve the flow of traffic overall. 

Plus, Green Light requires no additional technologies to be implemented, so city engineers can do so in as little as five minutes, as Google claims. Google takes the data, runs it through their algorithmic models, and delivers its recommendations to the cities so that the signals can be adjusted.

First piloting the program in Seattle, Google has since expanded Green Light to cities around the world, benefitting drivers at 70 intersections across Abu Dhabi, Bali, Bangalore, Budapest, Haifa, Hamburg, Hyderabad, Jakarta, Kolkata, Manchester, and Rio de Janeiro as well. These trials have indicated a 10% reduction in emissions, as well as 30% fewer stops being made.

This is Just One Example of How AI Helps Solve All Kinds of Problems

While the practical use of AI is still somewhat limited where small and even medium-sized businesses are concerned, there are still plenty of ways that the smart use of automation?one of the foundational technologies that enables AI in the first place?can be harnessed to your benefit. We?re happy to help you accomplish this, too.

Learn more about how White Mountain IT Services can improve your business? processes through the strategic use of today?s technology by calling us at (603) 889-0800 today.

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