Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recent News To Use

There have been a couple of recent news bits that relate to my posts of the last few days.

One came from a blog on Daily Fuel Economy Tips where they linked to a study report on GPS and the reduction of one's carbon footprint. The study was funded by NAVTEQ, a major producer of software and data for hand held GPS devices. The following comes from their press release:
NAVTEQ, the leading global provider of digital map, traffic and location data for in-vehicle, portable, wireless and enterprise solutions, has revealed further insights from a proprietary research study designed to assess the consumer impact of everyday use of navigation devices. These findings focus specifically on the impact that the addition of real-time traffic has on the driver experience, and point to the use of traffic information as a primary influencer in time savings for the average driver.
The key word here is proprietary research. I have seen way too many studies where the results come out very much on favor toward the products of the funding entity. This also appears to be a targeted study in that the focus is on the addition of real-time traffic information which this provider will supply, for a fee.

Then there is the matter of the participants in the study and the conditions of their commutes. Again from the press release:
The results are from a three pronged study conducted in two metropolitan areas of Germany – Dusseldorf and Munich -- which evaluated drivers without a navigation system, drivers with a navigation system, and drivers with a navigation system that included real-time traffic. Previous studies in this field focused more on “getting lost” scenarios versus the benefits to drivers of navigation system use during the course of their normal driving habits.
Those being studied were European and from modern German cities(having been rebuilt after the Second World War), hardly the equivalent to most American cities. I have no doubt that there are those who find it necessary to use a navigation system to travel in Europe, but for regular commutes I would think that European neighborhoods have a much higher connectivity ratio than America.
The study results reflect more than 2,100 individual trips, more than 20,000 kilometers and almost 500 hours on the road.
This works out to an average 2+ hours a commute trip. If you are traveling more than 2 hours to get to your job and driving, you're doing it wrong. That's like living in Lexington and working in Louisville, Cincinnati or Ashland and making the trip both ways every day. You have got to be nuts.

Now, here comes the kicker. This was a short study. How short I don't know, but the release states "If applied over the course of a year, a driver who does not currently use a navigation device would save themselves 4 days of driving each year if they had a traffic-enabled navigation system." Is saving four days worth of driving spread out over a year's time worth the added expense of a new GPS device AND the monthly cost of the real-time traffic updates " case of emergency". Then these results were extrapolated to fit the American driving experiences and, voila, the results are oddly similar.

The average driver was estimated to reduce their CO2 emissions by 21%, yet they could do much better than that by using the efficient European rail systems. American are not so lucky, but being better informed about alternative traffic route and a better connectivity of roads would go a long way.

The other has been the announcement concerning the 21c Museum Hotel and its connection with the Gray Construction Co. of here in town. Most articles like to make the contrast of the situation with CentrePointe the focal point and make sure that they mention that such a thing could have been accomplished here. I have seen many episodes of what some called grandstanding when the Vice Mayor has chastised the Webb Co for not doing, in his opinion, a better job.

A quick perusal of the Gray website give a display of their projects around the country and most of them seem to me to be just as generic and bland as what their CEO is complaining about. The Gray Construction arm here in Lexington, actually Versailles, has done a few projects but nothing to scream about. And their on-line newsletter has done some nice pieces about new and innovative methods of the "green technologies", yet I have not heard of any local projects in which these methods could be used as a demonstration of the progress available in Lexington.

Jim Gray has received accolades related to planning and construction from prestigious places and cities around the country and the world, yet we hear nothing of how his expertise is being used in his adopted "hometown"(he is originally from Glasgow, Ky.).

Maybe something else will come along tomorrow.

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