Balaji's Research is Improving Commutes for Millions

October 2018

Professor Balaji Prabhakar researches traffic and routes and how a nudge can help us better manage our commute. Stanford Radio host Russ Altman speaks with Balaji on "The Future of Everything". 

While well-known mapping apps have transformed the daily commute through better information, Balaji Prabhakar is exploring ways to digitally incentivize people to improve their driving habits.

He calls it "nudging," and says that small shifts in commute times — just 20 minutes earlier or later — can make a considerable impact on the day's congestion in highly trafficked urban areas, like San Francisco.

A few years ago, Prabhakar made headlines with a Stanford-only study that used small monetary incentives backed by larger lottery-like rewards to reduce peak-hour commuting on campus. He later undertook a similar but much larger effort in Singapore to promote off-peak train travel. In four years, participation in Singapore grew from 20,000 to 400,000 users.

Listen to the Stanford Radio, "Nudging your Commute with guest Balaji Prabhakar"

Excerpted from the School of Engineering, Research & Ideas, "Balaji Prabhakar: Can digital incentives help alleviate traffic?" October 2018. 

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