Imagine a world without traffic signals. It’s difficult, isn’t it? The first electric traffic signal, introduced in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914, marked a pivotal moment in urban transportation. It represented the dawn of organized traffic control—a simplistic but revolutionary step in managing the growing complexity of city streets. Fast forward to the 21st century, and it’s astonishing how much—and how little—has changed in the realm of traffic management. This discrepancy highlights a critical need for innovation in managing the intricacies of today’s urban transportation networks. Fortunately, AI can provide an answer.

The Problem: Stuck in the Past Amidst Modern Chaos

Today’s urban centers are buzzing hives of activity. Vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists weave an intricate dance on the streets, while public transit adds another layer of movement. Yet, the methods used to manage this dynamic ecosystem are antiquated. While other industries have leaped forward, riding the wave of technological innovation, traffic management often seems anchored in the past.

Traditional traffic management approaches and tools, such as static traffic counts and equipment-based data collection, are not just inefficient; they fail to capture the complexity and dynamism of modern transportation systems. The reliance on outdated systems is akin to using a map and sextant in the age of GPS navigation—a clear mismatch for the complexity and fluidity of modern urban environments. This gap had led to a host of problems—increasingly dangerous roadways, chronic congestion, and the air we breathe becoming more polluted.

The Opportunity: A Data-Driven Horizon

In the midst of urban traffic chaos lies a goldmine of underutilized data. Every vehicle and connected device contributes to a digital blueprint of urban mobility today. In 2004, INRIX pioneered the idea to utilize this connected vehicle data to help improve mobility and since then we’ve been at the forefront of this revolution, building the expansive INRIX Data Lake for the past 20 years. This reservoir of information is more than just a collection of data points; it’s the key to unlocking a new era of traffic management. By analyzing this data, we can uncover the hidden patterns and trends that define city transportation, turning a digital blueprint into actionable insights.

The problem, however, has been how to sift through this enormous (nearly 50 petabytes) data lake to find these unique insights and how to correlate that with piles of unstructured data in the public sector (before and after studies, performance analysis, etc.) Fortunately, with new advancements in AI and Large Language Models (LLMs), what was once a formidable challenge is now a transformative opportunity. AI technology offers a potent tool for decoding the intricate patterns of urban transportation and sifting through mounds of information to light a path towards efficient and safer travel.

The Solution: Introducing INRIX Compass™, Our New Generative AI Powered Technology

To bring the power of our 50+ petabyte data lake to the masses, INRIX just launched a groundbreaking new AI-powered technology called INRIX Compass™ that stands to redefine traffic management. Unlike traditional analytics, INRIX Compass delivers comprehensive insights that enable cities to adopt a proactive stance on traffic control. It offers a deeper understanding by correlating diverse events and data sets, paving the way for a smarter approach to traffic management.

It goes beyond just showing current conditions and issues to help users understand the why and what measures can be taken to fix the problems. It can dissect complex scenarios, such as a sudden traffic snarl or a recurring bottleneck, and offer data-backed solutions. For example, if there’s a traffic crash, instead of just showing you where it happened, it can tell you what the contributing causes were and what can be done to help prevent future accidents in the future based on analyzing this location and comparing it with other locations around the world with similar road designs, patterns and contributing causes. Additionally, it can predict the impact of changes made to roadways, such as modifying intersections, altering parking rules, or redesigning roads again based at looking all over the world at similar situations. For the first time, INRIX Compass enables us not only provide information about current events but also insights into their causes and possible solutions.

By tapping into years of data and employing sophisticated AI models, INRIX Compass doesn’t just tackle the symptoms of transportation woes; it gets to the root of the problem, paving the way for more proactive transportation management.

How it Works: 20 Years of Transportation Data + Generative AI

At the heart of Compass’ capabilities lies INRIX massive data lake, spanning over 20 years of rich transportation data from connected vehicles, smartphones and IOT devices. This data is harnessed by the artificial intelligence within Compass to quickly analyze, understand, and provide actionable insights that cities can use to improve traffic management. By leveraging advanced large language models (LLMs), INRIX Compass can process vast amounts of data, understand context, and generate insights to answer the “what”, “why”, and “how” of traffic issues.

The key to Compass’ effectiveness lies in its continuous learning process. Its foundational models are trained on transportation engineering, planning, and management manuals, as well as industry best practices and all of INRIX’s data to ensure it possesses decades’ worth of transportation knowledge. This knowledge base enables Compass to provide data-driven recommendations for improving traffic conditions, addressing issues like poorly timed traffic signals, dangerous intersections, or recurring traffic jams.

Simplifying Complexity with INRIX Compass: All You Have to Do Is Ask

A key feature of INRIX Compass is its intuitive, user-friendly interface. It makes it easier to get value out of massive amounts of data with an simple query interface that puts 50 petabytes worth of rich transportation data at their fingertips by simply asking questions. Instead of complex commands or data analysis, users can simply type or speak their questions, making it accessible to a wide range of users, including non-technical staff. This enhancement opens the door for users to get answers to questions that were once beyond reach, thanks to the depth and breadth of data now available. This approach democratizes data access, making it possible for not just traffic professionals but also city officials, urban planners, and public safety authorities to harness the power of 20 years’ worth of rich transportation data.

Traditional vs. GenAI-Driven Approach

Consider a typical scenario faced by a traffic professional today. Identifying a traffic problem, like frequent congestion at an intersection, is relatively easy using tools INRIX has provided for almost two decades now. However, after identifying the issue, a traffic professional needs to then understand what is causing the problem and what can be done about it. The engineer needs to design and implement a solution, such as adjusting traffic signal timings or redesigning the intersection. This requires additional time and resources especially because in an ideal world, the engineer needs to know how a certain solution is expected to quantitatively impact the problem and the impact similar solutions have had in other locations around her city or other cities.

With INRIX Compass, this entire process is streamlined and made more effective. Compass can quickly analyze traffic issues using real-time and historical data, and identify not just where and when congestion occurs, but also why it is occuring. Is it due to a surge in pedestrian crossings at certain times? Is it caused by adjacent construction work rerouting traffic? Or is it a result of inefficient signal timings? GenAI can pinpoint these factors rapidly.

Once the issue is identified, Compass can simulate various interventions in a virtual environment to predict their impacts before any real-world implementation. This capability allows traffic professionals to test multiple scenarios in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional methods. For instance, Compass could simulate the impact of altering traffic signal timings, introducing new pedestrian phases, or even redesigning the intersection layout, providing insights on which solution would be most effective.

Conclusion: A Leap into the Future of Urban Mobility

INRIX Compass marks a pivotal moment in how we approach traffic management. It provides a pathway to transition transportation from a reactive to a proactive stance, from limited insights to a comprehensive understanding, and from stagnation to continual innovation. We’re hoping to jumpstart the journey away from the slow, reactive processes of the past to a future where swift, data-driven decisions lead to more effective and sustainable urban mobility. INRIX Compass doesn’t just acknowledge the legacy of that first traffic signal; it catapults traffic management into a future where technology and rich transportation data can transform the world.

Imagine drastically reducing deadly crashes and traffic congestion, ultimately making the air we breathe cleaner. That’s the transformative potential of INRIX Compass. By tapping into years of data and employing sophisticated AI models, INRIX Compass doesn’t just tackle the symptoms of transportation woes; it gets to the root of the problem, ensuring our cities move towards a smarter, safer, and more sustainable future.

There is a lot of work to do to make our vision a reality, and we’ll be releasing INRIX Compass only to select customers in the near future so that we can tune our models ensure the highest possible accuracy and effectiveness, but we’re excited about the potential of AI at INRIX, and are committed to rolling Compass out across all of our products in 2024.

With INRIX Compass, we’re not just imagining that world; we’re building it.