Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category

Teralytics DACH team grows its consultancy focus

Throughout your career you worked with a number of innovative technology providers catering to the transportation sector. What have you observed as the key challenges in transportation planning and traffic management?

Whether we are talking about planning or operational use cases in transportation, data is at the heart of all challenges and, therefore, all solutions. Without up-to-date, comprehensive understanding of mobility, it is impossible to make effective choices. This is equally true in the development of mobility concepts, as well as traffic light management.

What has drawn you to Teralytics?

About a year ago, I read about Teralytics providing nationwide mobility insights to Destatis, the German Federal Statistics Office, and to the Robert Koch Institute. These two renowned institutions were relying on Teralytics data to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 lockdown measures, and study the correlation between mobility and infection rates in different parts of Germany.

I was fascinated by this innovative use of mobility data. As luck would have it, I started the discussions with the Teralytics team shortly after and, here I am.

Tell us about your current focus in your new job role.

As a Business Development Director, I work with a range of cities, regions and transportation and engineering consultancies in the DACH region.

Consultancies are at the forefront of innovation in the mobility sector. Seeking to achieve competitive differentiation, they are also the ones expected to solve some of the most complex challenges in transportation and to adapt to the changing circumstances.

The last two pandemic years have impacted mobility and decisions related to it at every level. Consultancies are the first to understand the need to embrace new tools to improve their decision making. I’m excited for the opportunity to demonstrate our value to their projects and partner with them to execute on any number of challenging briefs.

Is the Information Revolution the Catalyst We Need to Improve Cities?

Is the Information Revolution the Catalyst We Need to Improve Cities?

Technology is deeply ingrained in our lives, yet we’re only at the beginning of the information revolution. With data science pushing new frontiers, we’re beginning to unlock the vast potential of data to improve how we understand the world around us.

The latest challenge has been that data is growing faster than our ability to process it. This mountain of data continues to multiply with no end in sight. While we have more information than ever before, it is worthless without the ability to analyze it and extract insights.

We’ve reached a crucial tipping point. The basic tenets and techniques of data science used today have been known for years, but with cloud computing creating a centralized and efficient computing resource, we now have the power to extract qualitative value from the quantity of data.


Smart City Vision: Using New Data to Reorganize Societies

With cities growing worldwide, planners and policy makers need all the help possible to make better decisions on everything from managing traffic to where to develop new infrastructure and housing.

For example, if city planners know that rush hour traffic is worse along certain routes, they can make changes to the road network or reprogramme the traffic light timings. They can add new public transport routes, such as bus lanes or tram stops, and ensure that new housing developments are in areas that don’t compound the problem.

Although cities have been using data for decades, advances in technology have only allowed analytics to take off in the past few years. We now can access new, untapped data sources, such as mobile signal networks that are only possible due to the massive increase in smartphone use in recent years.

Using this data, we’re able to track how human behavior impacts cities and uncover trends to help policymakers make more informed decisions. Decisions could range from the best location to build a bus stop and ease congestion to identifying the part of the city which will benefit from new housing the most.

By organizing society in a new, data-oriented way we can better understand how cities function. This is key to make our cities smarter and creates a continuous feedback loop, allowing us to use this same signal data to determine if a specific change is effective.


Looking Ahead: Where Will Data Science Take Us In The Next Few Years?

The opportunities are endless. However, organizations need to be wary of blindly following the “data religion.” We tend to implicitly trust algorithms and the resulting data, forgetting that the information may be flawed for some reason. Though debugging data is a huge challenge, companies that rely on biased data place themselves in danger of making wrong decisions based on flawed insights.

Cities today are merely scratching the surface in using big data to improve operations. Unlocking powerful mobility data is just one way in which big data can help us improve the way we understand the world around us to create a better quality of life in communities. In healthcare, for example, great strides are being made in using big data to pool experience and intelligence to fight diseases and improve patient outcomes while lowering costs.

We’re at a critical junction right now. The ‘information revolution’ has matured at a much faster rate than the industrial revolution, and the next ten years will change the world more profoundly than the last twenty years. This can be a scary thought, but it’s also an optimistic one, since we have the opportunity to use big data to change the world for the better. The question is can we take advantage of the opportunity and make this vision a reality?

Donald Kossmann is the director of the Microsoft Research Lab in Redmond and co-founder of Teralytics. He is also a professor of computer science at the Institute for Information Systems of ETH Zurich, one of the world’s top universities, a position he’s occupied since 2004.