Sunday, 22 May 2011

The AA street watch

Apparently the AA were doing some study last week, trying get some statistics on what people in cities do that is technically "illegal", despite the war on motorists being over.

We think their crowd-sourced approach, while clearly based on our own world-leading experiment, is valid, we do like asking the machines for the data too. It scales better in space and time, generates more defensible data,  suffers from less self-selection bias, and is easier to go through in bulk.

This is why we think the best way for the AA to gain some statistics of where drivers bend the "so called law" would simply be to collect the satnav statistics of their own vehicles, correlating vehicle speeds and parking events with the "legacy" speed limits, double yellow line map, yellow-boxed junctions, etc. This would provide a year-round source of data, completely independent of any selection bias of the reporters.

We invite the AA to provide the Bristol Traffic team with an anonymised copy of such a dataset. Even if our multi-terabyte distributed filestore lacks the storage and compute capacity, we are sure that our strategic partners like Yahoo!, Google and Facebook,  do, and we will apply our world class datamining and Hidden Markov Modelling techniques to show the AA we are pretty good at guessing where their vans and driving school vehicles will park (hint: double yellow lines and pavements, such as here, the double yellow lines of St Michael's Hill).

A lot of people dismiss the AA for being lost in time, pining for the 1950s when cars only made it ten miles before a breakdown, and you'd send a telegram to let your family know you'd made it all the way from Bristol city centre to Filton without a catastrophe. We criticise them for something else: inability to grasp the opportunities that modern technologies bring. Never ask the people, when you can ask the machines.

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