California awards ‘first’ generative AI contract in state’s history

California's transportation department says its agreement with the transportation data and software firm Inrix marks a first in state history.
(Getty Images)

The software firm Inrix on Wednesday announced it was selected by the California Department of Transportation to provide a proof of concept for its generative artificial intelligence traffic software to improve safety on the state’s roadways. According to the department, it’s the state’s first award of a technology contract that involves the use of generative AI.

The software, Inrix Compass, uses the company’s real-time and historical traffic data — along with statewide datasets on crashes and roadway inventories — to assess risk and make recommendations on projects. According to Inrix, the technology will allow California transportation officials to make predictions about every functional road in the state, from rural highways to busy city thoroughfares.

According to the company’s announcement, users will also be able to ask questions about roadway areas that have certain risk factors. Inrix claims the system can recognize anomalous safety patterns and that it can recommend changes to operations to improve safety and reduce traffic.

The contract stems from California’s request earlier this year for companies to propose generative AI tools that could help the state reduce traffic and make roads safer for especially vulnerable roadway users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders. The request followed the release of a first report last November from California’s AI task force on the benefits and many risks posed by generative AI.


Many other states use Inrix’s data analytics tools to improve roadway safety and attempt to reduce traffic congestion, including Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Rhode Island, among others.

Keely Quinlan

Written by Keely Quinlan

Keely Quinlan reports on privacy and digital government for StateScoop. She was an investigative news reporter with Clarksville Now in Tennessee, where she resides, and her coverage included local crimes, courts, public education and public health. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Stereogum and other outlets. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in social and cultural analysis from New York University.

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