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Telecommuting - An Alternative to Urban Transportation Congestion

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4 Author(s)
Nilles, Jack M. ; University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90007. ; Carlson, Frederic R. ; Gray, Paul ; Hanneman, Gerhard

An interdisciplinary research program of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, has investigated the potential impact of substituting telecommunications and computer technology for certain forms of urban transportation [1]. Emphasis has been placed upon the use of these technologies to alleviate the massive twice-daily peak commuting loads imposed upon most major American cities. The primary means by which these technologies will be used is to allow "information industry" workers to perform their jobs at work centers scattered throughout each city, close to their homes, rather than commuting long distances to work. A basic premise is made that this reorientation of urban work patterns will not occur unless the technological substitutes can be shown to be both economical and effective. The results of a study of a major insurance firm located in the Los Angeles central business district are presented. The study evaluated the present transportation patterns, population distribution, and business contact requirements of a major administrative division of this firm. These commuting and communicating patterns were then used as the basis for assessing the feasibility of the use of various levels of telecommunications and computer technology for allowing the substitution for commuting by "telecommuting." Alternative telecommuting network designs were formulated and evaluated with respect to their ability to facilitate current work functions. Costs of network installation and operation were compared with the present costs of commuting. It is concluded that present communications and computer technology, in terms of "off-the-shelf" hardware and services, can offer an economical substitute for commuting.

Published in:

Systems, Man and Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:SMC-6 ,  Issue: 2 )