Originally posted on Gigaom:
Anyone who has ever hopped on a Los Angeles-area freeway between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. knows too well what gridlock feels like. Los Angelenos may soon be able to find some solace soon, thanks to a pilot program between Xerox (s xrx) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority that uses big data to keep traffic moving for drivers on the I-10 and I-110 freeways who are willing to pay
. That program, called ExpressLanes, is just one of many irons Xerox (via its Affiliated Computer Services subsidiary) has in the fire as it tries to use its considerable technology portfolio to understand and improve traffic on U.S. roadways.
Central to most of Xerox’s anti-congestion projects, including ExpressLanes,is the idea of dynamic pricing, which rises with demand in order to maintain some semblance of order. As Natesh Manikoth, Xerox’s chief technology officer for transportation solutions, explained to me, if a driver is paying to drive in the HOT (high-occupancy tolling) lane, he’s guaranteed a consistent speed of 45 miles per hour. If traffic starts backing up, prices for individual cars will rise to discourage them from entering, saving the lanes (which, before this program were high-occupancy-vehicle lanes) for high-occupany vehicles such as buses and those involved in carpools.
Xerox has another program in Los Angeles called ExpressPark, the goal of which is to let people know when they’re about to leave the house whether and where they might find parking, and how much it will cost. “It’s not enough to know how to set the price, you have to make sure that data gets to users in real time,” Manikoth said. Drivers also need to know parking spots will still be there when they arrive in 40 minutes. That’s a prediction problem.