Massachusetts expands real-time traffic info system

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boston-trafficMassachusetts plans to expand its real-time traffic information system to all state highways by the end of the year, Gov. Deval Patrick announced last week.

Called “GO Time,” the app is a real-time traffic system that measures travel times between two points by anonymously tracking the Bluetooth-enabled devices carried by motorists and their vehicles. The system complies with new federal legislation that requires real-time traffic information to be provided to the public.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation first installed the system in the summer of 2012 in parts of the state and has slowly expanded that over the recent months.

“We are thinking creatively and using innovative technology to provide the real time information that can make a real difference in the daily lives of commuters,” Patrick said. “I am proud of the work performed by MassDOT in its efforts to connect with its customers and of the work we have accomplished to support intelligent transportation projects that improve our quality of life.”

Temporary message boards currently in use will be replaced with permanent standard green federal highway signs with an embedded digital travel time display.

The entire GO Time Intelligent Transportation System, when completed, will include 132 new travel time signs and 121 Bluetooth readers. The total cost of all locations now in operation and the statewide expansion is an estimated $17.5 million, with federal funds covering 80 percent of the cost.

“We have made a steadfast commitment to connect with our customers and make the system work better for them, whether taking public transportation or commuting on our state roadways,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey. “Expanding GO Time real-time traffic information is another dramatic step forward in assisting motorists in all regions of the commonwealth.”

The GO Time information will also be available through MassDOT open data initiatives to provide feeds of real-time information to Web and smartphone app developers and is the latest step in the big data initiative, opening transportation data for developers to assist in building a customer-friendly, healthy and sustainable transportation system.

In partnership with the Mass Big Data Initiative, MassDOT organized a “hackathon” in December 2013, inviting numerous groups with experience in data analysis. MassDOT made available many of its transportation data sources, including real-time traffic data, volume counts and transit data. Hackers worked through the night, and presented their findings to MassDOT, with cash prizes awarded for the most compelling and insightful visualizations. Building on this success, additional MassDOT sponsored hackathons are planned.

“Big data innovations can transform economies and help governments tackle major challenges,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “MassDOT is a leader in the commonwealth’s Mass Big Data Initiative, and we have been delighted to partner with state transportation leaders to expand public access to open data and to engage the commonwealth’s big data entrepreneurs in transportation initiatives. Today’s announcement is another indicator of MassDOT’s commitment to using technology-based solutions to improve the customer experience.”

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Massachusetts, States
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