Published on January 12, 2024, 3:12 pm

Emerging Tech: The Future of State, Local, and Higher ED IT

The California Department of Transportation has issued a request for technology companies to propose generative AI tools that can assist in reducing traffic and improving road safety. California is seeking to leverage AI to enhance government services while also addressing potential risks associated with the technology.

Currently, state agencies in California rely on various technologies to analyze traffic data, but decisions on how to improve traffic flow are mainly made by individuals. By utilizing generative AI tools like ChatGPT, which can quickly generate text, images, and other content, officials hope to find better solutions.

By adopting a proactive approach through generative AI tools, transportation system operators and engineers will be able to anticipate and address safety issues in advance or more rapidly. This shift from reactive to proactive measures can significantly contribute to the prevention of accidents on the roads.

Caltrans also aims to leverage generative AI technology in its mission to eliminate road fatalities and serious injuries by 2050. Through analysis of crash sites, lighting conditions, traffic patterns, and behavior of pedestrians and cyclists – known as “vulnerable roadway users” – Caltrans believes that generative AI can identify high-risk areas for accidents and suggest appropriate safety measures.

California’s interest in leveraging generative AI for traffic management comes after the completion of the state’s AI task force report highlighting both the benefits and potential risks of this technology. Several state and local governments across the United States are already using AI systems to analyze traffic patterns and movement. For example, Seattle is involved in Google’s Project Green Light initiative, which uses AI-backed recommendations for adjusting traffic light timings with the aim of improving traffic flow efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2020, Inrix introduced a new generative AI-powered product aimed at helping cities manage their traffic flow effectively. Five states – Louisiana, Oregon Tennessee, Texas, and Rhode Island – adopted Inrix’s real-time roadway traffic data to address congestion, air pollution, and motorway accidents.

According to a 2023 report from Inrix, Los Angeles was the 6th-most congested city in the United States in 2022, with drivers losing an average of 95 hours and $1,601 due to delays.

The California Department of Transportation’s request for generative AI proposals demonstrates a growing trend of governments harnessing artificial intelligence technologies to improve public services and enhance safety. As technology continues to advance, it is expected that AI will play an increasingly significant role in cultivating smart cities and improving transportation systems worldwide.


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