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Project Accel’s Smarter Traffic Concept Earns Award for Students

We’ve all been there: It’s rush hour, cars aren’t moving, you’ve watched the traffic light make three complete cycles, and you’ve only barely managed to inch forward. Frustration builds, and you’re sure there must be a better way to navigate traffic.

Project Accel, a winning entry at the 2013 AKQA Future Lions contest, held at the 60th Annual Cannes International Festival of Creativity, is a traffic management system prototype that aims to do just that. Designed by a group of five students from The Creative Circus, an accredited two-year advertising school in Atlanta, Project Accel was selected from more than 1,500 submissions for its innovative design to solve the traffic problem.

The brainchild of art director Jarrett Jamison, interactive designer Verenice Lopez, graphic designer Nath Cochran, and copywriters Bradley Daniely and Devin McGillivary, the idea behind Project Accel originated out of shared frustrations with traffic near the group’s campus. The group quickly realized this was a growing issue in many metropolitan areas. “On average, people waste around 44 hours a year in traffic,” Jamison says.

Similar to IBM’s annual “5 in 5” predictions, this year’s Future Lions contest challenged teams to connect an audience of their choosing to a service or product from a global brand, in a way that wasn’t possible five years ago. Project Accel, conceptually branded with IBM, is an idea for a mobile app that learns where users live and work, syncing that information with traffic data to direct commuters away from traffic jams.

“We all have our favorite routes, but when bottlenecks occur, this app will reroute you,” Jamison explains. And in order to avoid simply relocating the bottleneck, Project Accel would offer different routes to different users, ideally dispersing commuters, resulting in a more even traffic distribution throughout the streets of a particular city.

Project Accel would furthermore integrate a social component into its available functions, integrating with Facebook to create carpooling suggestions from its users’ friends who live and work in close proximity of each other. The carpooling function would report the aggregate time and gas saved by each person, and the use of Facebook for its carpool recommendations ensures the safety of its users. “We’re all connected,” Jamison says, expressing optimism for the role of social media in traffic management. “You won’t be carpooling with strangers.”

While Project Accel is currently just a concept, the group is hopeful for the app’s development. “We’d like to see it implemented in the future,” Jamison says. Explaining why the team collectively chose to brand Project Accel with IBM, Jamison cites IBM’s commitment to building a smarter planet, saying that the decision ultimately became clear as they explored their options: “IBM is even designing smart traffic lights. It was a perfect fit.”

Chris Bowman is an intern at IBM Systems Magazine.



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