The traffic situation in major metropolitan areas in the Philippines, particularly Metro Manila and Cebu City, could become more bearable in the future, thanks to a collaboration between the World Bank, the Philippine transportation authority, and Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing service.
The goal is to decongest Metro Manila and Cebu City and identify potential road hazards by analyzing real-time data mined from GPS activity from Grab vehicles.
OpenTraffic, as the pilot program is called, will allow government agencies to create better public-transportation routes, and determine the best locations for public infrastructures like bridges, highways, and railways, and optimize traffic signals in cities that have some of the densest urban populations in the country.
Metro Manila alone has an estimated population of 16.5 million people. To put that into perspective, it’s more than the combined population of Sweden and Denmark and nearly as many as the current number of refugees who have left their countries altogether.
In the future, information from OpenTraffic will be sent to another tool called DRIVER (Data for Road Incident Visualization, Evaluation, and Reporting), which was developed by the World Bank and designed to improve the management of accident-prone areas and promote faster emergency response. With DRIVER, concerned agencies will receive notifications of road incidents as they happen.
Back in March, the Philippines’ transport ministry and the World Bank worked to train hundreds of government staff, including police and traffic personnel, on how to use the OpenTraffic program.
And the Philippines is just the start, not the destination, for OpenTraffic — in the same way that OpenTraffic could be the grease that starts the conversation for holistic solutions to the worsening traffic problem in Metro Manila and Cebu City.
Grab and the World Bank say they want to continue working on the project in hopes of making it available to other countries in the region.