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CNR: Alamanacco della Scienza


N. 14 - 8 ott 2014
ISSN 2037-4801

International info   a cura di Cecilia Migali


Sharing cars in Nyc

As part of a major new study, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Mit) researchers, together with scientists from the Italian National Research Council, Cornell University, and Northeastern University, mined a massive dataset of 150 million taxi trips in and around New York City, with the goal of quantifying the impact that ridesharing in taxis could have on the city’s traffic. The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Pnas) and show that ridesharing could lead to a dramatic 40% reduction in the number of vehicles on New York City’s streets.

“Thanks to the Internet and the advent of smart phones and other new technologies, we are living in the era of a new 'sharing economy’,” said Carlo Ratti, Director of the Mit Senseable City Lab, which led the research effort. “Today it is mostly about fixed assets, such as making your home available on AirBnB. But tomorrow, it will increasingly involve our mobility infrastructure”.

“In light of this transformation, we wanted to better understand how widespread sharing platforms could revolutionise urban transportation systems – particularly in taxis, which are New Yorker’s favourite means of transport”.

In order to conduct the study, researchers utilized data made available by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, along with sophisticated new mathematical tools based on network science. “Given the immense quantity and complexity of data, we had to develop a novel method of analysis, which we call 'shareability networks”, said paper co-author Paolo Santi, researcher at Cnr- Institute of Informatics and Telematics (Iit). “The idea is simple: taxis are shown as nodes in a network, and links as opportunities for shareability. Applications are far reaching, as optimal sharing possibilities can be computed efficiently - fast enough that taxis could potentially use the system en route”.

Results for New York City are striking. Mathematical analysis reveals the vast untapped potential of the city’s existing taxi fleets. Theoretically, the total number of trips could be reduced by 40%, fleet operation costs and pollution could be reduced by 30%, while overall service and timeliness would remain more or less the same. Traffic reduction would have a major impact on the city’s overall environment and quality of life. “Imagine New York with calmer streets and cleaner skies”, said Santi.

The study also looks at the potential of taxi sharing in other cities around the world. “As we all know, with over 13,000 vehicles, New York City has a very high density of cabs”, said Cornell University professor and paper co-author Steven Strogatz. “Is the Big Apple a unique case, or would our results apply to other cities?”.

To answer this question, researchers sub-sampled the initial dataset, creating a model for cities with lower vehicle density. Results show that shareability networks could be potentially applied in other urban areas around the world.

To make the mathematics accessible and broadly share the results, Mit Senseable City Lab has developed an online tool called HubCab - available at www.hubcab.org - to visualize taxi trips and vehicle sharing in New York City. “HubCab makes the benefits of shareability networks instantly tangible”, said Michael Szell, former member of Mit Senseable City Lab and now a researcher at Northeastern University. “By engaging citizens in sharing economies, online tools could pave the way for a more sustainable urban future”.

“Of course, nobody should ever be forced to share a vehicle”, said Ratti. “However, our research shows what would happen if people have sharing as an option, which is becoming more of a reality than ever, as the availability of real time information in our pockets allows us to make immediate, informed decisions based on our needs and resources”.

The research was sponsored by the Enel Foundation, Audi Electronics Research Laboratory, General Electric and all of the members of the Mit Senseable City Consortium.

Fonte: Paolo Santi, Istituto di informatica e telematica, Pisa, email paolo.santi@iit.cnr.it

Per saperne di più: - www.cnrweb.tv/con-il-taxi-sharing-benefici-per-tutti/