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Big Data Helps City Of Dublin Improve Its Public Bus Transportation Network And Reduce Congestion

For example, using advanced analytics on data collected on each bus' journey showed that some buses were being passed on route by buses that departed at a later time during rush hour. Now, IBM researchers, the DCC and city bus operators are working to pinpoint why the distance or time between buses, also know as headways, are diverging in this manner and what measures can be quickly put into action that will improve traffic flow at these specific peak times.

"Until recently we had a fragmented view of the overall health and real-time status of Dublin's transport network, making it very difficult to identify traffic congestion in its early stages because the causes of a delay had often moved on," said Brendan O'Brien, Head of Technical Services, Roads and Traffic Department at Dublin City Council. "As a result of the research collaboration we now have a better idea of how multiple data can be merged from across different sources and the IBM Research prototypes show what can be achieved in this area."

Based on the success of the use of data from the city's bus fleet, DCC and IBM Research are engaged in additional projects to look at how traffic control can be assisted and congestion eased in the city. These projects include: integrating meteorological data into the traffic control centre so operators can take prescriptive actions to reduce extreme weather conditions impact on commuters and a predictive analytics solution combining data from the city's tram network with electronic docks for the city's free bicycle scheme.

This effort is part of a unique collaboration between IBM and Dublin City Council that began in 2010. As a part of Dublin's effort to becoming a leading Smarter City through its embrace of technology to stimulate economic activity and meet the challenges of a globally competitive city for the future, it shares data generated by city services, such as transportation and its operational expertise running the city with IBM researchers. The IBM Research lab in Dublin focuses on cities and advancing science and technology for intelligent urban and environmental systems through Big Data, analytics and optimization.

"Constantly in motion, cities generate enormous amounts of data that can help officials deliver a better quality of life for its citizens and build competitive advantage with the right tools," said Dr. Francesco Calabrese, Research Manager, Smarter Urban Dynamics, IBM Research - Dublin. " Dublin is becoming a smarter city by harnessing Big Data, extracting actionable insights from its transport data and delivering these instantly to decision makers so they can improve traffic flow and awareness of how to prepare for their future transportation need."

Using Big Data analytics techniques, the new Vehicle Awareness and Prediction feature, which is based on IBM InfoSphere Streams and developed by IBM Research, is now part of IBM Intelligent Operation Center's Intelligent Transportation solution. IBM's software solutions for cities draw on experience gained from Smarter Cities projects with cities around the world. IBM InfoSphere Streams software, part of IBM's Big Data platform, can analyze and share data in motion, providing real-time decision making in environments where thousands of decisions can be made every second.

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