10 years I’ve spent in traffic and 10 years I’ve wondered “But why?” or more formally, “Why does traffic occur more in some parts of the city than others?”
I think that most TEDx talks inspire me. Actually, around 99.9% do. This may have been because all the talks I have watched was by super successful grown-ups such as Bill Gates. This time, I witnessed the Year 13s of our school give a TEDx talk. As expected, it sure did inspire me. When I walked into the theatre, I honestly sat down without expecting much, but from the beginning of the 2 hour TED talk, I was intrigued. The first talk was by Wilson Jusuf, who talked about the Indonesian traffic system and solved by question of why it is better to walk from home to school on a bad traffic day.
He argued that people tend to believe that the traffic was caused by the government’s poor design of roads and management, however he mentioned that reaction time plays a big role in this. Going back to my initial question, “Why does traffic occur more in some parts of the city than others?” reaction time helps explain a bit of this unanswered question. When a driver stops to avoid something or someone, they stop their car for a bit which makes the driver behind him stop, which makes the driver behind him stop, etc etc… It makes me think of the domino effect. So is this all related to physics because of the domino effect? Of course not. Human sciences, a study of the activities and experiences of human beings also is an area which this takes part in. How the drivers react, how cars cut infront, why drivers dont follow the lane lines. Can the WOK for this be memory? Do the drivers act this way because they remember from last time that they had to wait longer if they didn’t squeeze into small gaps inbetween two other cars? I often trust my gut feelings, so maybe they also trust their gut feelings too and they think that it brings the most personal benefit if they act so.
To create all this system of green, yellow, and red lights the programmers behind it have to use a bunch of computer science as an area of knowledge, Wilson said in his TEDx talk. Something called a green wave is a technique that occurs if a series of traffic lights are coordinated to allow continuous traffic flow over several intersections in one main direction. Reason and intuition, are both used to create this idea of a green wave. These programmers spend a vast amount of time setting these timers on the traffic lights to turn green and red when they want it to. After a long time of adapting to it, they just instantly know by intuition that they have to time this signal at this and that other signal at that. Then here comes maths, algorithms used to design these timings. It would be pretty bad if the mathematicians use faith as a main way of knowledge because hoping something will happen doesn’t really help if cars are crashing left and right. So maybe once again, reason. After hard thinking and brain storming, they come up with a reason behind all these algorithms, and test it out in a simulator before they implement it to the streets. This definately helps the crashing part of the problem.
Wilson talked about his solution which he created with his friend that included flying drones up in the air, basically as a short distance satelitte to monitor all these traffic and send signals where the traffic is occuring and where the traffic lights needs to be switched. This included all human science, mathematics, and computer science as they personally did the programming after studying the patterns of the traffic. They then brought this idea to Ahok, the governor of Indonesia to present their plans to him. They were praised however it was told that Indonesia currently doesn’t have the correct technology to bring this to the real world and out of the simulation. Unfortunate, I wanted to see Jakarta without traffic before I leave.
Then again, even after talking about all the reasons I cannot guarantee that I will understand the Jakarta traffic.