Traffic jams aren’t just stressful—they’re expensive. A recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research revealed that in 2013 traffic jams cost the U.S. $124 billion. By 2030, they estimate the annual price of traffic in the U.S. and Europe will soar to $293 billion.

Can we turn this around? I think so. The Last Traffic Jam can happen through the Internet of Everything (IoE) and the increased value that comes from connections between people, process, data, and things. It’s in this highly connected world where we’ll see amazing things happen—including the Last Traffic Jam.

Recently, I had this discussion with Doug Newcomb, President of C3 Group and Founder & Curator of the Connected Car Council, in a new Future of IT podcast episode. We talked about what it will take to manage congestion and end traffic jams for good. Here’s a closer look at some key insights from our discussion:

  1. Much of the technology needed to make the Last Traffic Jam possible is already here.

Smart parking spaces, solar roadways, self-driving cars, and automated tollbooths are examples of powerful technology innovations that are shaping the future of transportation and connected cities.

By connecting these disparate systems, we can take real steps towards the Last Traffic Jam. A smart car talks to a smart traffic signal, which talks to the road and realizes that there are no other cars at the intersection – so the light turns green, saving the driver’s time and conserving gas.

While many of the solutions on the market today are quite new, the Internet of Everything will bring them together to drive considerable transformation for drivers, cities and the environment.

  1. A mindset shift will be required to create an end-to-end solution.

Through the networked connection of people, process, data and things, the Internet of Everything is a $19 trillion global opportunity. To unleash this value, organizations and public sector leaders need to shift their mindsets. This includes knowing which dark assets (unconnected things) to “light up” by connecting them to the Internet. It also involves evaluating how to use the real-time data from these things to drive new insights. The next step is applying these insights to enhance processes, so that people benefit. This will require new skill sets and greater collaboration at all levels.

Consider the concept of trust and security. Unfortunately, as connected cars increasingly dot the roads, they will become high-profile targets for hackers. Since people’s safety must be a top priority, new thinking about security considerations will be required. Rather than just focusing on attack prevention, today’s leaders must accept attacks as a reality and plan for the entire event continuum—before, during, and after an attack. They need to provide pervasive security that is active and dynamic. This will be critical as more people trade personal information – like their current location – in return for the value of beating rush hour traffic.

3. This evolution is happening now.

At Cisco, we talk a lot about the future, but Cisco and our partners are helping cities around the world benefit by creating and implementing Internet of Everything-enabled solutions now. For example, the Port of Hamburg is managing bridge closures and roadway congestion that tends to increase when ships in the harbor are offloading. And Chicago is collecting data from lamp posts to learn more about traffic patterns, weather trends, and more so city officials can mitigate congestion or plow snow off roads with minimal impact and the greatest benefit to drivers.

These are just a few examples of the Internet of Everything in action. It’s real. It’s happening now. And one day, we can put an end to traffic congestion for good.

Listen to the Future of IT podcast with Doug Newcomb, President of C3 Group and Founder & Curator of the Connected Car Council, to learn more about how to make the Last Traffic Jam a reality. It’s available for free download via iTunes.

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Joseph M. Bradley

Global Vice President

Digital & IoT Advanced Services