How a Traffic Jam in Hong Kong Gave Me Hope

February 18, 2015 - 5 Comments

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to China and South Korea to meet with Cisco customers and partners. The meetings went well, but it was clear that these countries share what seems like a universal condition afflicting so many cities all over the world: traffic.

I know what you’re thinking, “Traffic? Really?” Fair enough, but bear with me on this one.

Admittedly, the traffic may have been top of mind for me because of a recent advertising campaign Cisco unveiled foreshadowing the last traffic jam. The irony is that sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Hong Kong gave me time to think about this in a more critical way.

Why, in today’s modern, technology-advanced era, have we not yet discovered a way to avoid traffic or at least control it? Sitting idle in traffic for many is an accepted daily annoyance, but it can also present serious consequences to the welfare and economy of many people and organizations. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that traffic costs $124B in lost productivity, fuel waste and higher prices for goods as a result of higher transportation costs. Multiply this by a global factor, and you begin to get the enormity of this so called “annoyance.”

At Cisco, we’re focused on creating solutions that deliver business outcomes for our customers: faster decision-making, lowering costs, increasing productivity, etc. Being close to Cisco’s data center solutions and the company’s Internet of Everything vision, I got to thinking how we’re not that far off from leaving the traffic jam in the dust.

It’s not hard to envision a connected network of cars, signals, roads, meters, tolls and parking spaces beaming data back and forth to orchestrate the fluid flow of transportation. At the heart of this intense analytics and processing workload are Cisco’s Data Center solutions. UCS and ACI, for example, can provide unparalleled data center performance and optimized application deployment, helping power these physical and virtual infrastructures that will require greater automation, orchestration, software programmability and security. The business imperatives of mitigating traffic jams demand that the engines for analytics and data intensive computing be stronger than ever before.

I ended up making my meeting in Hong Kong, but with the clock seemingly ticking faster than traffic was moving, it was close and not without a degree of panic. I’m looking forward to when we regard traffic jams the same way we talk about cassette tapes and pay phones: “Remember when…?” We’re getting closer every day. See how the city of Hamburg is making this vision a practical reality.


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  1. You should try Jakarta(Indonesia), it’s the worst city when it comes to traffic jam.

  2. Reading this article i was feeling myself in the traffic jam of Luanda and about the 2 or 3 hours per trip that i’ve to make to go to work in the city center…it’s a problem that we cannot avoid and the time is passing and the future isn’t bringing any improvement to make our time profit when we are in our cars.

  3. This example of a daily annoyance that all of us who commute daily in a metropolitan city really is an opportunity which could be very well positioned to a potential smart city. The technology that we have today can make a difference even more so in tackling a menace that most of us are slowly getting used to but which remains at best a persistent evil!

  4. I often am thankful for Cisco Telepresence technology because some days I can work remotely and avoid the bad Silicon Valley traffic (admittedly not as bad as Hong Kong). I keep thinking the transporter beams from Star Trek would be helpful to get places. I am glad that in the meantime, Cisco is helping with technology that can make it easier for all the people who have to driving in traffic.

    • Jennifer,

      May I ask if you car pool ?
      I frequently drive past the Tesla plant myself and the number of 1 occupant cars seems kind of high.