Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Navigation & Route Hacking

While the AI/Machine-Learning battle is likely over in the long run, I'm surprised municipalities haven't figured out real-world hacks to game all the mapping/routing apps away from the frustrated neighborhoods getting clogged with traffic. Waze/Google Maps/Apple Maps/etc all rely on public databases to describe the roads upon which they build routes and maps. Those databases indicate things like speed bumps, traffic circles, crosswalks, and so on. The routing algorithms leverage that information in their calculations for "fastest route" and "shortest route." They then go onto generally avoid them when determining routes. If neighborhoods vote-in a traffic circle or speed bump or two, they can knock their routes out of the routing algorithm's choices to present to users, and push traffic back to the roads meant for heavier load and higher speeds. Not only will automated systems adapt away from the obstacles, but crowd sourced systems will likely trend away from them as well.

Of course, in the long run, the system will optimize the road network at large, and all the crevices will be filled in the end, but, it's a short term hack few munis appear to be leveraging. Los Angeles might be cluing in though.

My involvement with UrBike over the past year, and Carmera over the past few, has opened my mind to just how broken the U.S. is in terms of personally owned automobiles. We've spent too many of our resources building roads and parking places for hunks of metal to sit idle for 95% of their existence.

Go get on a bike (or a skateboard, or a scooter, or _something_ other than a car).

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