University professor creates Facebook-like traffic site

A University of Toronto professor, Baher Abdulhai, is helping people share information about traffic within a city by being part of the development of a Facebook-like platform called On-Line Network-Enabled Intelligent Transportation Systems (ONE-ITS).
ONE-ITS is a software platform and a national research society including several other universities. It connects commuters, police, government officials and researchers at universities, helping them share information about traffic on their way to their destinations. The platform is geared at those interested in traffic research and, much like Facebook, is open to anyone who wants to join. Although it is focused on professionals who can share their expertise and share data about transportation and research.

“If there’s a problem on the freeway, people can know about it,” Abdulhai said.

By sharing the information with each other and ideas on how to fix traffic problems, people can arrive at a solution, according to Abdulhai.

Traffic density has increased by 60 per cent in the last 20 years according to a report by CANARIE. It has also cost $6 billion in productivity loss and augmented operating costs.

It was created in collaboration with the University of Toronto, the University of Regina and the Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education (CANARIE). CANARIE maintains a series of leased area networks and deploys network applications. It is supported by the Canadian government.

Stakeholders such as police and commuters have ideas about how to deal with traffic so there must be a way to communicate that, perform research and come to better solutions, according to Abdulhai.

“The whole motivation is to reverse this fragmentation of ideas and promote the integration of ideas and views of experts,” Abdulhai said.

CANARIE donated $700,000 to help fund ONE-ITS and provided a network on which to run the platform. ONE-ITS is already running on servers at the University of Toronto and it is expanding itself as a social network. Fifteen universities are being provided with the new platform across Canada and the United States.


“A network is nothing without people,” Abdulhai said.

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