In my daily work of designing and developing apps and websites, inefficiency is the enemy. I love finding ways to optimize my workflow, cut out unnecessary steps and maximize that single most important non-renewable resource: time.
On this 101st anniversary of the traffic light, I’d like to point out how grossly inefficient traffic lights are. Every single time I drive someplace here in Denver, in any part of town, I get stopped by 3, 4, 5 or more traffic lights in a row. And unfortunately, this isn’t unique to Denver, it’s in every city in America. Think about the millions of cars, trucks and commercial vehicles having to stop, accelerate and idle unnecessarily. Think about the hundreds of billions of gallons of fuel wasted. Worse, think of trillions of collective minutes wasted for each of those people in each of those vehicles.
Tech startups today are ubiquitous, but they seem to focus on frivolous, arbitrary problems. Meanwhile, government employees who design our traffic light systems are either unwilling or unable to fix a wasteful design. There’s a big opportunity for a tech startup using today’s technology resources — machine learning, open-source software, and cheap cloud services — to solve this problem. Make the traffic light smarter. Let them talk to eachother. Imagine the possiblities.
Traffic lights are key to optimizing time and fuel on the road. I’d love to see an innovative startup find a way to make them better. They’re a 101 year old idea that’s in desperate need of a 21st century update.