CAN A SUPERCOMPUTING PARTNERSHIP FIX BAD TRAFFIC?

ERIC MILLER, professor, Department of Civil Engineering

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THE PROBLEM

Traffic, that’s the problem. Gridlock in major cities like Toronto, where traffic jams cost the city $3.3 billion in lost productivity each year. And that’s not to mention decreased safety on the roads and an increase in air pollution and environmental degradation.

THE INNOVATION

Enter the $210-million Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP).

At its heart is some of the best computer technology on the planet: at U of T, the IBM Blue Gene/Q, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers and, at Western University, advanced cloud and agile computing infrastructure. And there is a powerful team behind the technology—seven universities (U of T, Western, McMaster, Ottawa, Queen’s, UOIT and Waterloo), IBM, the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario.

THE APPROACH

The right mix of transportation can only be achieved by understanding what’s going on. Eric Miller has already established his expertise in developing computer models that can analyze overall travel demand in urban areas. His models are used by the governments of Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Durham Region. Now, he and U of T collaborators will use SOSCIP technology to develop even more detailed
and accurate urban simulation models.

THE IMPACT

SOSCIP will enable Miller to create new knowledge about urban transportation that will provide a
foundation for coordinated planning in major urban regions. And SOSCIP will be a resource to many more Ontario university researchers and small- to medium-sized enterprises, investigating areas such as
health care, energy use and alternative energy distribution, water quality and pandemic planning.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Miller and his collaborators are just beginning to use SOSCIP computing technology to do their detailed analysis, which involves creating a model that integrates the transit and road transportation system
of the GTA with its built form. This will enable the design of a future urban region that moves people and goods more efficiently and increases economic productivity and social well-being.

“Over 85 per cent of Ontario’s citizens live in its urban regions. This number will grow. Our cities’ growth cannot be planned and managed without excellent evidence-based decision- making supported by strong modeling capabilities. And that’s what SOSCIP enables my team to do for the benefit of our province’s future.”

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