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Traffic Jam-Evading Apps Save Firms Money

Althea Chang
Big Data Download

Drivers using traffic data to find the fastest routes to work may have an easier commute, but for companies with fleet vehicles, seeing traffic in real time could mean significant cost savings.

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Despite their use of electric vehicles and natural gas, and cutting down on idling while deliveries are made, companies such as FedEx (FDX) and UPS (UPS) save on gas when their drivers take the roads with less traffic.

Traffic information firm Inrix says that Roadnet Technologies, a logistics company spun off from UPS, improved its vehicle routing efficiency by 2.5 percent on average using Inrix technology. If a company has 100 trucks that travel about 200 miles each, a 2.5 percent reduction in fleet travel could save $130,000 a year.

In all, about 100 million vehicles send Inrix traffic data and that makes up only a fraction of the 10 billion data points a day that the company receives and analyzes, Inrix CEO Bryan Mistele told "Big Data Download." And those numbers could increase.

The Inrix app competes with other sources of traffic data, both commercial and municipal. Several cities offer local 511 traffic alerts. Sigalert, an iPhone app with an Android version now in beta testing, reports traffic conditions and unplanned highway lane closings. Google Maps has an optional traffic overlay feature on its apps, and online as well.

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Automakers such as Toyota (TM) as well as several luxury automakers are adding traffic data to their in-car technology to attract new car buyers.