Traffic: Can a Supercomputer Make It Like Driving in 1930?

January 12, 2021

Advertisers work long and hard to find roads which are scenic and can be “managed” with the assistance of some government authorities to be perfect. The idea is that a zippy new vehicle zooms along a stretch of tidy highway (no litter or obscene slogans spray painted on billboards, please). Behind the wheel or the semi-autonomous driver seat is a happy person. Zoom, zoom, zoom. (I once knew a poet named Alex Kuo. He wrote poems about driving. I found this interesting, but I hate driving, flying, or moving anywhere outside of my underground office in rural Kentucky.

I also read a book called Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says about Us). I recall the information about Los Angeles’ super duper traffic management computer. If my memory is working this morning, the super duper traffic computer made traffic worse. An individual with some numerical capability can figure out why. Let those chimpanzees throw darts at a list of publicly traded security and match the furry entity with the sleek MBA. Who wins? Yeah.

I thought about the hapless people who have to deal with driving, riding trains, or whatever during the Time of Rona. Better than pre Rona, but not by much. Humans travel according the habit, the age old work when the sun shines adage, or because clumping is baked into our DNA.

The problem is going to be solved, at least that’s the impression I obtained from “Could a Supercomputer Help Fix L.A.’s Traffic Problems?” Now traffic in Chicago sucks, but the wizards at the Argonne National Laboratory are going to remediate LaLa Land. I learned:

The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is leading a project to examine traffic data sets from across the Los Angeles region to develop new strategies to reduce traffic congestion.

And what will make the difference this time? A supercomputer. How is that supercomputer doing with the Covid problem? Yeah, right.

The write up adds:

Super computers at the Argonne Laboratory are able to take a year’s worth of traffic data gathered from some 11,160 sensors across southern California, as well as movement data from mobile devices, to build forecasting models. They can then be applied to simulation projects.

Who in LA has the ball?

Not the LA Department of Transportation. Any other ideas?

And how was driving in LA in 1930? Pretty awful according to comments made by my mother.

Stephen E Arnold, January 12, 2021


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