Toronto has long been known for its bad traffic, chronically ranking among the worst cities in North America by average commute. Despite City-led efforts to alleviate congestion, and continuing initiatives to promote transit, the time lost to commuting remains a major economic issue. The City of Toronto is now taking more steps to combat congestions, with the use of travel-time data in their traffic management system.

King Street traffic from above, image by Jack Landau King Street traffic from above, image by Jack Landau

Announced yesterday, the City has contracted Chicago-based mapping and data management company HERE to carry out comprehensive traffic analysis. Specializing in mobility management and data analytics, HERE uses real-time information and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to develop logistical solutions for tackling congestion. By utilizing both real-time and historical traffic patterns to support traffic management activities and systems, the City hopes to better adapt to the changing conditions, and variables, that cause congestion.

The system will allow the City to access and use data from all of Toronto's major roads which give information on traffic conditions and travel times. However, this initiative will not require the installation of extensive technologies and will instead rely on existing in-road sensors and manual methods. The data collected will then be used to better support activities at the Traffic Operations Centre as well as provide the Transportation Services’ Big Data Innovation Team with information to measure and monitor conditions to guide future planning.

Highway volume, image by Marcus Mitanis Highway volume, image by Marcus Mitanis

The data collected can also be used to monitor the impact of major traffic incidents and communicate the information to the public in for travel times in day-to-day use. The system however, will apply to all road activities, giving valuable information to everyone using the streets, including transit users, cyclists, and pedestrians. 

In a prepared statement, Toronto Mayor John Tory explained that "[t]he addition of this data will help us better understand how traffic congestion is affecting our streets, better evaluate the impact of congestion management initiatives and better monitor the performance of our transportation system," concluding that "[t]his is exactly the kind of technology support we need to help make traffic flow more effectively."

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and the initiative gets underway. In the meantime, more information is available via the City of Toronto. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on the space below this page.