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Merging weather and traffic data in real time

May 28, 2014

Delays generated by weather conditions and traffic congestion create significant costs for trucking companies. Indeed, congestion on the nation’s interstate highways alone added $9.2 billion in operational costs to the industry’s bottom line in 2013, according to a study by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released in April.

To combat those two problems with one system, live traffic video aggregator TrafficLand has forged a deal with Global Weather Corp. (GWC) to market a service combining hyper-local forecasts of road and atmospheric weather conditions with real-time local traffic camera video.

“Weather and road incidents are two of the key concerns to trucking outfits [with] delays, unexpected events and weather influence on moving freight have major impacts to the bottom line,” Tony Finocchiaro, TrafficLand’s VP of sales, explained to Fleet Owner via email.

“Traditionally, Truckers use normal weather and traffic reporting means to get their information before and during their routes [but] this information is often 20 to 45 minutes old and many times inaccurate,” he said. “The lack of real-time data causes truckers to take routes when they should avoid them and end up in delays they could have missed. With the introduction of real-time data, truckers can make better informed decisions.”

TrafficLand – which operates 18,000 traffic cameras in more than 200 cities on its national network – and GWC are going to make their “combined content” available through an application programming interface (API) that will allows customer to choose specific “data layers,” including hyper-local weather data for road conditions, temperature, precipitation and wind speed, as well as real-time video from local roadside traffic cameras.

“For many years we’ve seen a strong synergy between changing weather conditions and rising demand for the Department of Transportation (DOT) camera video on our network,” added Lawrence Nelson, CEO of TrafficLand. “What could be better for understanding road conditions than the convergence of real-time video and weather content.”

Mark Flolid, GWC’s CEO, pointed out that tapping into TrafficLand’s national network of real-time traffic camera data will allow GWC to apply its technology to road surface conditions forecast for all U.S. roads.

“This is of significant value to commercial and consumer vehicles markets in which weather related accidents account for 24% of all crashes and the costs to the loss of life, personal injury and property damage run into the billions of dollars annually,” he explained.

TrafficLand’s Finocchiaro added that unlike typical weather forecasts, the combined TrafficLand/GWC data package gives commercial users in particular more accurate environmental awareness specific to their route.

“This has a dramatic effect on the decision making process for when to leave, when to divert and when to shut down operations as well as restart them,” he stressed. “The effect can be significant savings, least wasted tie on the roads, wasted fuel and avoidance of danger. They gain safety, lower operating costs and improved driver awareness.”

Finocchiaro also noted that approach to combining real-time traffic information and weather data is very new. 

“The current solutions available today are a series of aggregated forecast and weather data points placed into complicated forecasting models that tell a driver what might be happening and roughly when,” he said.

“Real-time data tells the driver what is happening, how long it has lasted and when combined with forecast data, what they can expect. Now drivers can take a much more personalized approach to when they leave of when they divert/re-route,” Finocchiaro emphasized. “This new level of environmental awareness gives users better information to make personalized choices based on their experience. The outcome benefits not only [travel] times on the road but overall planning in general.”

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