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Text Messages Tell Drivers When There's a Jam Ahead


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A massive traffic jam.

A new text messaging service will alert drivers in Nairobi, Kenya, of upcoming traffic conditions or route alternatives.

Credit: autoevolution

Drivers in Nairobi, Kenya, should have an easier time navigating traffic thanks to a new text message service from IBM Research Africa. Called Twende Twende, or "Let's go, Let's go" in Swahili, the service is designed to provide a message on traffic conditions or route alternatives when a motorist sends a message on their location and destination.

The service uses data from Nairobi's network of traffic cameras, coupled with an image-enhancing algorithm, to identify individual vehicles and their velocity. IBM Research Africa's Uyi Stewart says the lab used an inference algorithm from IBM's Tokyo research lab and worked to fine-tune it for the Kenyan capital. The adapted algorithm extrapolates traffic conditions on the 98 percent of streets not covered by cameras.

"If we have two isolated parallel streets with a single connecting street, and we know the ingress and egress numbers for cars on each of the parallel streets, we can estimate how many cars are taking a street connecting them," Stewart notes.

Recommendations will improve over time as more drivers use the service. "The more they use it, the more the system learns, the better it gets," Stewart says.

From New Scientist
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