Blocked roads, irritated people and deafening honking: traffic jams are everyone’s hell. Being ranked the most congested cities to drive in US, the situation is worse in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. The traffic in Bay Area has been reported to have increased by 80 percentage since 2010. In a one-of-its-kind competition, called “Hack the Bay Area Traffic Congestion”, the participants were asked to conceive, develop, and present their ideas on how to reduce the traffic congestion in Bay Area within 48 hours, over a weekend. The first prize was won by a group of students from Northeastern University, who received $4000 for their achievement. The students in the team were Vadakke Veetil Sreerajatha, Siddhant Varayambat, Qing Liao, Kiran Bilgundi, and Wang.
The idea proposed by the team was simple: decentralise the traffic from the dropping of school students in the morning. They developed the prototype for an app called FootBus. The idea is to drop-off students at different spots like parks and other open spaces. Students could walk from here and adults could aid them in doing this safely. Using the app, one could calculate the number of steps taken by the students to walk from their drop-off point to the school. The schools could give incentives to them according to the number of steps they take. Their idea is modelled on how some airports have tackled the traffic due to Uber, Lyft, etc.
The students plan to take the app design forward and form partnerships with schools or school districts. They hope to get feedback from middle school students about it as well.
“We want to give it to students to get feedback on the look and feel [of the app] to see if they like it and if they would want to use it,” Sreerajatha said.
N Malavika Mohan