Startup Inrix Inc. has created supercomputers that analyze cellphone and GPS signals, and then translate this data into maps of traffic conditions along New Jersey’s roads. According to the Wall Street Journal, the system helps the New Jersey Department of Transportation identify accidents and regions of stopped traffic. Before the Inrix computer systems were installed, NJ relied on traffic cameras and $20,000 roadside sensors for accident information, which only covered about 5% of the state roads. Dhanesh Motiani, executive director of transportation systems management at the state transportation department, told the Journal that, “Data like this is helping us move forward and make decisions we couldn’t make before.” The Inrix system costs New Jersey about $450,000 a year.
This start up signifies only a small look at the power that Big Data systems are estimated to have. the rapid expansion of mobile phones and wireless devices has allowed Big Data programs like Inrix to develop, and store and analyze data with more ease. Other companies like Google, Apple and Uber Technologies are also using Big Data to address transportation issues. These advancements in big data for traffic information will help cities and agencies save money and make smarter decisions about transportation projects.
However, there is a serious concern about how to analyze the data in the correct way. Companies may have all the information needed, but do not always know the right way to sift through it. Another concern with Big Data is privacy issues of consumers who worry about constant data transmission from cell phones and other devices.