Yet Another Flawed Congestion Report
The newly released INRIX 2016 Traffic Scorecard uses cell phone, vehicle tracking and GPS data to calculate traffic speeds and congestion delays in U.S. cities. But critical analysis by City Observatory researcher Joe Cortright (Yet Another Flawed Congestion Report from Inrix: Big Data Provides Little Insight) challenges the Scorecard's methods and conclusions.
"One one level, its a truly impressive display of big data. Inrix has compiled 500 terabytes of data, for hundreds of thousands of roadway segments, from hundreds of millions of sources on more than a thousand cities around the globe. That’s a real wealth of information. Inrix casually slips in the factoid that average speeds on New York streets are 8.23 mph, versus 11.07 mph and 11.54 mph in L.A. and San Francisco respectively. But unfortunately, in this particular report, it has chosen to process, filter and present this data in a way that chiefly serves to generate heat, rather than shed any light on the nature, causes and solutions to urban traffic problems. If 'big data' and 'smart cities' are really going to amount to anything substantial, it has to be more than just generating high tech scare stories."
Cortright identifies four key problems with the Scorecard:
- Methodology: New and non-comparable, but not significantly different or better
- An unrealistic definition of congestion
- Exaggerating costs
- Ignoring distance, discounting accessibility