Moving fast at a safe pace with the help of the crowd
Has traffic congestion prevented you from getting quickly to town again? You simply want to make a few errands but traffic has come to halt? This provokes a weary smile in the residents of Mexico City. Residents of the Santa Fe district spend an average of 2.5 hours a day in traffic jams. The fact that a city with over 20 million residents is plagued by extreme traffic is not surprising, but it is nerve-wracking, time-consuming and it can be dangerous. Harvard professor José Castillo is an urban planner and architect and started the Living Mobs project to solve the congestion problems in the city.
Together with his “Team Mexico City” he won the Audi Urban Future Award 2014. The Audi initiative was launched under the motto “the next leap in mobility” and examines the future of urban mobility.
How does José Castillo’s project work?
Users can share data on their own movements in real-time through a smartphone app and a data platform. When the award was presented, over 14.000 data sets had already been collected. In doing so they have created statistics about when, and how many people drive their cars at a given time. Data about public transportation, collected by the team with the help of universities and companies, is already available, but the figures for private transportation may prove to be very valuable. Tweets with locations, and data from companies also help the researchers. The aim of the project is to change the traffic flow in Mexico’s capital and encourage people to form carpools or switch to buses or trains. Someone who wants to visit relatives during rush hour and sees the traffic that awaits him might think twice about taking the car. If many people act like that, not only the daily stress in the city could be reduced but also the environment could be relieved. Team “Mexico City’s” concept could help other cities worldwide.
Crowds are also active in the German capital
In Berlin, the idea is to solve some traffic in a different way. In the winter of 2013, the city of Berlin started a four-week bike safety project. The numerous cyclists in the city were asked to contribute information about bike paths, dangerous roads and intersections. Their perspective is vital when it comes to reducing accidents and preventing hazards. Within the first 24 hours of the project, over one thousand traffic participants reported on problems in Berlin’s traffic and warned about dangers. Is a traffic light misleading, a bike path missing or an intersection confusing? Cyclists, pedestrians and motorists wrote about their experiences on the streets of Berlin. The active phase of the project is over, but the information and thousands of comments listed according to street names can still be viewed online. With a total of 5,000 reports the citizens of Berlin have contributed to making their city a safer place for cyclists. Some actions have been taken already, for example information signs have been erected at crucial points.