How Do You Solve a Problem Like Jakarta Traffic?

In many major cities around the world a typical traffic pattern sees northbound morning rush congestion followed by southbound after-evening congestion and vice versa. But for major arteries in Jakarta, including Jl. Antasari, there appears to be no pattern. Instead of southbound, the next congestion could be northbound again even in the afternoon of the same day.

If the morning rush is commuter traffic, but the afternoon flow is in the same direction questions need to be asked. To solve the traffic crunch planners must find the answers to when workers leave to return home and if alternative routes are available to them. Likewise, planners must find the causes of seemingly random congestions.

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The Jl. Antasari area features office towers to the south along the east-west toll road. The area is surrounded with residential neighbourhoods both south and west.

Another enigma to traffic conditions is intensity. A small survey of road users found the worst days for traffic are Wednesday, Monday and Friday. Data from Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, confirms Wednesday is the most congested with an average car speed of less than 18 kilometers an hour.

But while the data proves road users aren’t just imagining things, the puzzle of the origin and destination of the traffic remains unsolved.

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Far more data is needed to better understand the underlying causes, including 24/7 traffic counts of strategic roads and intersections of the Greater Jakarta road network. This must be paired with additional geo-referenced data, including political demonstrations, funeral processions, movements of state guests, sporting events and other functions which attract large crowds and could potentially disrupt traffic flows.

Big data crunching can then identify patterns and causes. Once the underlying causes are found, predictions can be made with traffic management and police organized to prevent excessive congestion in critical sections.

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Hans Rooseboom is a long term resident of Jakarta. He has visited nearly all of Indonesia's provinces and worked for many years in Ambon, Aceh, Manado and a number of smaller and larger towns on Java. He now enjoys a leisurely life, playing tennis most mornings and writing his blogs and other articles.


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