by Mike Masnick

Open Source Traffic Engineering - Help Fix Your Own Commute

from the click-and-drive dept

The internet certainly makes it easy for people to participate in a process that is normally done behind closed doors by "experts". Here's an interesting example: up in the Puget Sound area, they're working on a project to let anyone help them figure out how to solve traffic problems. Last year, they put an interactive map online where people could indicate the real choke points in their daily commute. The experts then took that data and instead of just saying what should be fixed and how, they created a very cool interactive system that lets everyone vote on the specifics of how to fix traffic problems. You go into the application, pick the choke points you want to fix and it adds up the fees. You can drill down for a bit more detail about the problem area and how it would be fixed. You can also vote on additional solutions (such as adding a carpool lane, or giving police more money to better enforce getting slow drivers out of faster lanes). Then, the important part: you also have to come up with how to fund the plan. You have a variety of tax options to play with. The system tracks the money issues and gives the plan a rating based on how likely it is to be approved by the voters. When you're done, you can submit your plan. I imagine the system can be gamed, but as long as they toss out most of the plans with a "poor" rating, this is an interesting way to examine all of the various possibilities while also getting local residents involved in the process in a way that really demonstrates the tradeoffs.

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