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Business, Society - Written by on Friday, August 7, 2009 16:10 - 4 Comments

Don Tapscott
Wikinomics to help solve traffic congestion

Traffic congestion is a worldwide headache that gets worse with each passing day. The Intelligent Transportation Society of America and its partners are seeking solutions to this problem, so they turned to VenCorps to apply the principles of Wikinomics.

VenCorps is an online community for discovering and cultivating the most creative solutions to a specific problem. It is the next evolution in collaborative innovation, where the community first helps to identify the best solutions and helps build out and cultivate those solutions. VenCorps connects entrepreneurs, investors and facilitators together in a community of shared interest.  In short, VenCorps uses the wisdom of the crowds to attract, screen and cultivate the most innovative solutions.  (Disclosure:  I am a significant shareholder of the parent company that owns VenCorps.)

Cash prizes are generally awarded to those people that are:

  • Bringing an innovative technology to the market.
  • 10x faster, smarter, better, cheaper, stronger, etc than current solutions.
  • People with domain experience or a track record of success. We also realize the best solutions can come from first-time inventors too.
  • Can reach millions in revenue within a few years of launch.
  • Are solving a real problem with a big pain point.
  • Are scalable, costing less per unit as the sales grow.

In the case of the Intelligent Transportation Society, the goal is to fund a company that can reduce environmental impact, strengthen economic productivity, move people more efficiently, or prevent accidents.

After the challenge was issued, 94 groups submitted solutions that were reviewed and voted on by a community of 4080 people.  (I am familiar with several of the entries and have advised some, so I have recused  myself from the selection process.) The nine best solutions were just announced, and will now undergo a much more intense round of scrutiny.  The nine finalists can be seen here.  With finalists coming from Hungary, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States the origins of these solutions are as varied as their approach to make traffic history.

Here is a sampling of the finalists.

Intellione:  The company uses mobile phone handsets to monitor traffic congestion. Users can see where traffic congestion is occurring in real time and know their travel time and make a choice to take an alternate route. This impacts transit and commuter travel and hence is an important tool in mitigating greenhouse emissions. The systems also helps governments to see how their roads are performing and address safety issues and plan where to make their capital infrastructure investments.

Skymeter:  Since 1998 governments in Europe/Asia have cut congestion by charging for road use, a $2B/yr market in 2008. Now Request for Proposals ask for GPS tolling; integrators lack solutions that price reliably. Our Financial GPS system is the piece needed to win bids.

Avego:  We want to build the automatic, intelligent, real-time infrastructure that makes it no-brainer-easy for travelers to share their empty seats, thereby unlocking the excess capacity already travelling and wasted on our ‘congested’ roads.  We want to enables individual drivers to advertise their excess capacity and make it available to other travelers.

iCarpool.com:  One Web site for all modes – Carpool, Vanpool, Transit, Bike, Walk. One site for all travel types – commute trips, events, long distance trips and real time trips (through mobile phones and SMS). One site which enables you to find matches within all your networks – your employer, your residential community, your friends, your soccer club and more.


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Aug 14, 2009 21:31

1. observer August 13th, 2009
We used to have policeman, on point duty to keep traffic moving, especially on major hightways.
Now we have fender benders, along with tow trucks, tie up highway lanes for hours.
Get the policeman to clear them, keep traffic moving, or divert traffic at the previous off ramp, and then a twenty minute trip would take twenty minutes and not two hours.
Keeping the traffic moving would be a miracle to fight congestion as well as pollution. If I am on the road an hour and a half less think of all the pollution, gas, time that would save.
I think we need policemen to direct traffic and keep it moving, we need fewer obstructions to the traffic flow, we need traffic to move at the posted speed limit, not at 1 tenth of that.
We don’t need more highways we need for the ones we have to work.
Construction on highways ought to be done one lane at a time. For instance you repair the right lane this year the middle lane next year and the left lane the year following year.
As it happens now each night the accessible lane changes and drivers are slowed down and confused. Some times at certain points we have all three lanes closed at the same time with detours, a very disruptive mode of doing things.
WE don’t need more highways, we don’t need to pay more for them, we need them to work the way they were designed to work.

thomas falconer
Aug 16, 2009 15:38

the most innovative, marvelous work on traffic is by tom vanderbilt and his book traffic: why we drive the way we do. and continues on his blog http://www.howwedrive.com/

a must read.

Justin Peters
Sep 14, 2009 1:19

As former Business Development Manager at Skymeter, I have to say thanks for the mention Don.

Until we realize that like any other resource, Road Capacity must be in some way rationed, and that the fairest way to ration a scarce resource is through Price, we will never cure Gridlock.

The economic theory has been around for 50 years since Transportation Planners and Economists began to really think about how to cure traffic congestion in places like New York City. Skymeter makes that economic theory implementable, in as flexible a way as public policy makers can imagine. The time has come to get smart about Road Use.

Jan 31, 2010 17:52

Hi Don,

These are really cool applications that just wait to be prototyped here in Dresden, a really innovatively driven city with creative entrepreneurs, in conjunction with http://senseable.mit.edu, IBM, http://www.widetag.com, T-Systems MMS and others, as well as the City Council of Dresden. The connector within the community will be a CoWorking space that will function as a facilitating hub for innovation for the future.

Would you assume this to become reality within 365 days?

Now available in paperback!
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William's latest collaboration, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. Learn more.

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