Handling a road closure in the data-driven world

On Sunday afternoon Sue and I were out in a local village enjoying a cup of J. Atkinson’s & Co alongside a rather nice scone when it started to snow. We don’t really do snow in our part of the world; we certainly don’t do snow in March.

Heading back home something made me set the satnav. I know the way home from this village, but I sometimes put the satnav into silent action to highlight potential problems. Perhaps I was subconsciously expecting problems due to the snow.

A little way along the journey the satnav asked me if I would like to be diverted around upcoming congestion. I quick look on the satnav revealed that the congestion was in reality a closed road. It’s a 6 year old satnav so not the fanciest.

Sue got her iPhone out to check for more details. The Highways Agency is the source for such information in the UK and they used to have quite a nice app, unfortunately the app has been updated with some fancy new features that, in my opinion, make it less useful. One of the updates has been to include a safety warning about driving when you move. I wouldn’t dream of using an app while driving, but Sue wasn’t driving and it would have been far better for her to have been able to use the app without the messing about.

The BBC travel app was far more helpful with data was coming from the Highways Agency anyway. The reason for the road closure was a serious accident which suggested that reopening wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

(I suspect the Highways Agency app will be being deleted pretty soon.)

There are two main roads going north to south in my region, one is the motorway, the closed one was the other, and there was no opportunity to get on the motorway. Getting home was going to require some country road exploration. Knowing a bit about the local roads I didn’t take the satnav’s immediate offer of help and took a different route. The satnav eventually caught on and guided me home.

Later on in the evening one of the local news sites was updated to give more information about the circumstances of the closure. The time on the article is 5 hours after the crash which meant that it was no longer news, for us anyway.

Today I see amateur photographs of the crash scene (nothing graphic).

Reflecting on these events it struck me how much we are already living in a data driven world. Soon the data will be driving the car and perhaps the accidents will reduce.

If we are this data-driven in our personal lives, how much more should we be data-driven in our work lives?

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