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Crowdsourcing solutions to traffic problems?

March 2017


Some government agencies seems to have resorted to crowdsourcing via social media to either find or assess solutions for the worsening transport and traffic problems in Philippine cities, more specifically Metro Manila. This includes posts by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) about various topics ranging from public transport reform to travel demand management (TDM) schemes. From one perspective, the approach can be seen as something like a participatory approach towards finding a solution that is acceptable to most. I say so since the proposals or ideas come from what are supposed to be official accounts of these agencies and thus can be claimed as something that aims to engage the public in discourse towards finding solutions.

Following are screenshots from a public social media account and examples of the responses/comments he got for the post:

What do you think? Did MMDA do its part in analyzing or evaluating their proposal? I suspect that they did not perform an in-depth analysis despite the resources available to them. They do have technical staff and tools to do the analysis. Note that the agency acquired simulation software during the time of Bayani Fernando that they used to justify projects like the elevated U-turns at Kalayaan and the widening of Commonwealth Avenue. Their technical staff have also been training locally and abroad on transportation planning. A crowdsourcing exercise such as this seems more like a “trial and error” approach where those monitoring the responses/comments may opt instead to summarize the responses for the analyses and then determine whether to refine, push through or withdraw the proposal that was floated. I think the MMDA should do its part first (i.e., evaluate the proposal at both macro and micro levels) and then present the pros and cons of their proposal in both quantitative (e.g., improvement in travel speeds and travel times) and qualitative terms (i.e., improved productivity or quality of life for commuters).

1 Comment

  1. not all things can be better solved by consensus. not all policies should be formulated through democratic means. some things are what they are even if all of us want them not to be. if we ask our people whether they would agree to a decrease of taxes, there would be an overwhelming yes, but it does not mean its good for the country – it would be disastrous! a lot of many other things are what they are because of natural or physical laws, not because we want them to be or not to be. such as traffic congestion.

    crowdsourcing solutions to traffic is cute. it’s nice to hear and may elicit a lot of accolade. but it won’t solve the problem, not by one bit. unless you’re really hoping to get some brilliant solutions which you don’t already have from doing in-depth technical analyses. transportation problems are better solved through transportation science. that’s why universities all over the world offer masteral and doctoral degrees in that discipline. you don’t crowdsource diagnoses and treatment if you have stage-4 cancer – you go to the doctor, not just any doctor, but to a specialist in cancer. so if you’re faced with a traffic gridlock, your first and last line of defense is to ask those technically competent to analyse it and offer definitive solutions based on generally- and internationally-accepted standards of science and technology. not from any man on the street.

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