Gridlock Guy: Partnership with traffic app could help commuters

Gridlock updatesMark Arum’s column appears Mondays. Listen to his traffic reports daily on News 95.5 and AM750 WSB, and see him each morning on Channel 2 Action News. Connect with Mark on Twitter: @markarum.

In a recently announced partnership, Waze, the world’s largest crowd-source traffic app, and the city of Johns Creek will share traffic data in an effort to help alleviate delays through the area. Johns Creek becomes the eighth city in the country to partner with the tech company, now owned by Google.

“Over the last year they have started this connected citizens partnership program,” Johns Creek Geographic Information Systems manager Nick O’Day said. “The aim is to try to connect governments that have information on road closures, construction, maintenance, things like that, anything that we know about that we can contribute to to their system to help route traffic a little more efficiently.”

While Johns Creek officials provide information to Waze, the app and its users in turn provide data to the city.

“They get really good real-time definitive data from us, and in return we get all of the information they are collecting from users that are driving through Johns Creek,” O’Day said. “And we get access to that feed. We are then able use that information to understand how traffic is moving through the city.”

A major benefit to the city is getting traffic information on roads that don’t have traffic cameras or road sensors.

“Where we don’t have any data Waze is able to provide that by their users simply driving down the road,” Tom Udell, Johns Creek’s deputy Public Works Director in charge of traffic said.

He added the city will be able to take that travel time data and track where there may be issues. Then they can address those with signal timing or a construction project to alleviate a bottle neck.

This information and collaboration could help save Johns Creek taxpayers money.

“We are able to make better decisions which impacts where we spend our dollars in the future,” O’Day said.

Meaning the city will better know where and where not to allocate transportation funds in the future. Another cost-benefit could be less hardware the city needs to purchase.

“What this will give us an idea of what’s happening on those roads without cameras or sensors or traffic lights,” Udell said. “It is a much more cost-effective way to get information.”

The partnership should be beneficial to commuters as well.

“141 is our major corridor, its a major reliever for Georgia 400,” O’Day said. “We are hoping that by getting this data to Waze and as more people log-in to Waze, they are going to make intelligent decisions.”

Instead of guessing which roads have the worse traffic, motorists will have accurate information allowing them to choose a better route.

Who picks up the tab for all of this? No one.

“In terms of cost, this partnership with Waze costs us absolutely nothing,” Udell said. “There are no additional costs to us doing this. We get all of this information for free.”

Johns Creek’s top government official is on board with the program.

“Johns Creek has a very sophisticated traffic tracking system, and this partnership with Waze allows us both to help commuters avoid traffic delays and get through the City more easily,” Mayor Mike Bodker said. “We are proud to be the first in Georgia to embrace this new technology to better serve our citizens.”