China TransInfo Technology Corp. announced a couple of days ago that they will be developing an Olympic Games Traffic GIS Application System for Beijing’s Traffic Management Bureau. Although there are already traffic management systems in place apparently, Beijing is looking to be able track and manage street-level traffic in near real-time. Given Beijing’s general traffic problems, much like any densely-populated urban area, I’m wondering how much they can really do to effectively deal with traffic issues, but it is a high-profile example of the increasing use of GIS and geospatial technologies as key components in transportation management. Although the system is being developed specifically for the Olympic Games in Beijing later this summer, the company is planning to expand the system to include all of Beijing’s metropolitan area by October so it looks like plans are to continue to utilize the GIS system for regular traffic management in the long term.
As someone who attended the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, what I would really love to see is an application that could track and manage pedestrian traffic volumes and model the start and end times of events at various venues to minimize human bottlenecks in small areas. I can remember many events where you would just be awash in a sea of people and, since I’m pretty short, all I could do was just follow the flow until it started to break up, and then look around and see where I ended up. I was thinking that some of the work Paul Torrens is doing out at Arizona State in modeling crowd behavior and movement would be great for this kind of thing.