Rising fuel prices and worsening traffic congestion, coupled with increased awareness of the environmental impacts of transportation, are some of the ever increasing pressures we are facing today. These pressures affect us whether we are travelling for personal reasons or business.
A recent survey, commissioned by ESRI (UK), identified that commuters in the UK are spending on average just under one hour a day in their cars travelling to and from work; with over a third identifying that their journeys are congested.
Shorter vs quicker
Traditionally, journey planners have focused on providing either the quickest or shortest route. However, what if you know that by travelling an extra couple of miles further than the suggested ‘shortest route’ you will arrive slightly quicker; would you take that slightly longer route? Or, spending an extra five minutes in the car will reduce the number of miles travelled compared to the ‘quickest route’ thus you would potentially save fuel, would you take the slightly slower route?
Providing viable alternatives would enable businesses to balance their priorities when selecting routes – for example, priorities such as safety, fuel efficiency and route reliability could be combined in the route calculations, thereby producing the optimal route for the business. Increasing the understanding we have in the road network will also enable businesses to utilise their resources more efficiently – potentially resulting in more effective scheduling.
OK, so we have identified the importance of providing viable alternatives which will enable us to select the most appropriate route according to our priorities, but other factors also impact our journey selection, the main one being traffic volume. If we know part of our journey is congested our natural instinct is to try and avoid it. Sometimes we can’t avoid it and this inevitably leads to a sense of frustration. What if we know the likely traffic volumes? Perhaps we could alter our departure time so that we travel when least congested, making our journey less stressful whilst saving time and fuel.
Combining the way we generate our routes with intelligent traffic data will give us the confidence to change our behaviour, embark on new routes at varying times and still arrive as planned.
Welcome to the new world of predictable and reliable routes where businesses will realise efficiencies, savings and lower fuel costs.
Will we see this happen today? Quite possibly this is just round the corner! We are seeing a growing trend in the availability and accuracy of traffic data for our road networks together with increasingly sophisticated routing. Watch this space!
ESRI (UK) is due to launch its RouteControl technology later this year for large organisations.
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