Crowdsourcing and Commuting: Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups

Two great tastes that go great together: Crowdsourcing and commuting

There is an old series of commercials promoting Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that described peanut butter and chocolate as “two great tastes that go great together.”

A new report from the New Cities Foundation‘s Connected Commuting Task Force finds that crowdsourced information from social networks makes the daily commute better — whether via public transit or driving a car.

The study conducted a sentiment analysis on more than 15,000 social media comments near San Jose, California. And the researchers hosted several focus groups.

They found that sharing information over social media helped reduce commuter stress. And, the sharing of such information, might even serve as an important source of mobility information for people who are riding the bus, taking the train or driving to work.

There are several recommendations and findings in the study, that is definitely worth reading. But it is most interesting to me that researchers are studying the power of the crowd to help us move through our communities more efficiently.

We hosted a panel discussion last month at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh that tackled this very issue. The session included presentations from Jules Flynn of the MTA New York City Transit; John Lisle of the District Department of Transportation; and Aaron Steinfeld of the Tiaramisu project at Carnegie Mellon University discussing ways that each organization is leverage crowdsourced information. It was a robust conversation that found, generally, what the folks at the New Cities Foundation have found — that the advent of mobile technology has created the potential for massive amounts of data to be shared in real time.

The question no longer is whether social information sharing (crowdsourcing) and commuting go great together. The question now is how best do we leverage it?