Have you found yourself in traffic for hours only to realize, after the traffic clears, that the alternative route has been smooth throughout? Worse still, have you tried an alternative route only to join a worse nightmare? These are the problems facing Nairobians that Access Kenya, in collaboration with IBM, wants to sort.
Since 2010, Access Kenya has been providing free video feed of traffic situation on major roads in Nairobi and Mombasa via http://traffic.accesskenya.com. The data from these CCTV videos have been found to be useful in providing live traffic updates to mobile phones that can help motorists navigate their way easily.
“We have availed our huge database of video feeds captured of on our 36 CCTV Cameras covering various strategic roads within Nairobi and Mombasa,” said Kris Senanu, Managing Director-Internet, AccessKenya Group.
The partnership that Access has had with IBM for slightly over a year has seen IBM provide the mathematical algorithms and analytical solution that allows commuters to access data from the cameras through their mobile phones in real time and also provides suggestions on less congested roads in order to alleviate the pain around their commute.
“Cities like Nairobi stand to benefit immensely from the use of technologies to manage their transport systems more effectively. As one of Africa’s grand challenges, improving human mobility across Africa through the use of intelligent and analytical technology will remain a key focus of our lab which is set to be inaugurated in coming days,” said Dr. Uyi Stewart, Chief Scientist, IBM Research – Africa.
Approximately two million cars drive on Nairobi roads on a daily basis when at the same time 400 new cars get added to the roads by the day. The traffic jam caused by the cars cost the economy about Kshs 50 million in productivity every day. Any projects aimed at lowering congestion on the roads means saving not only the disgrantled commuters but also the revenue lost in traffic.
“This initiative therefore drives great value to both IBM and AccessKenya Group, as a practical solution to a common problem that will benefit the driving public”, explained Senanu.
To have the live traffic on your mobile phone, you’ll be required to subsribe to the service by dialing *384*3# and follow the instructions. The service fees has not been clarified but once we get the figures we’ll update you accordingly. In the meantime ma3route has been offering similar service but theirs depends on commuters using their ma3route app to send live updates to others. If users on ma3route were as many and very active, then the real time data from them could be more useful as it doesn’t depend on setting up expensive infrastructures like the CCTV cameras set up by Access Kenya. That means ma3route is can cost effectively cover the entire city and other towns and continue providing live feed to commuters.