Thursday, May 8, 2008

Composite Metrics

Here are some interesting examples of composite metrics - metrics whose values are determined by a mathematical formula involving other metrics. Composite metrics can be very effective in dashboards and scorecards, as they can quickly represent high-level information with a single number based on multiple underlying values (think Dow Jones Industrial Average).

The first is from and is called the Jam Factor, which sounds like the name of a bad 80’s rock band but is an extremely useful metric.

The Jam Factor is like a Richter Scale for traffic. It’s an overall measure of the traffic intensity on a roadway, or on a section of a roadway. Because the Jam Factor calculation uses real-time and historical speed data from our digital sensors and those of our partners, as well as our detailed accident, construction and congestion information, it’s a comprehensive measuring tool that is unique to

The Jam Factor is measured on a scale of 0-10, with 10 representing the worst traffic conditions. This numerical scale also provides color coding to give you a quick, at-a-glance picture of conditions on the roadways.

The second is a software analysis tool called WKO+ from TrainingPeaks. WKO+ provides a variety of tools that cyclists can use to monitor data from heart-rate monitors, power meters, and GPS devices to analyze their training. Working with exercise physiologists, TrainingPeaks developed two metrics that are used in their product: Training Stress Score (TSS) and Intensity Factor (IF). TSS tells you how much stress you put on your body during a workout, and IF tells you how intense the workload was compared to last months’ similar workout.

According to Gear Fisher, Chief Technology Officer at TrainingPeaks:

“The beauty of TSS and IF is that, combined, they can tell the amount of physiological stress put on a person’s body. They are all based on an individual rider’s threshold. So unlike heart-rate or even power zones, where 400 watts is 400 watts but if I weight 300 pounds and the guy next to me weighs 150 pounds the end result is something dramatically different in terms of velocity. If I go out and do 200 TSS points, or Lance Armstrong goes out and does 200 TSS points, the relative effect on each of our bodies is the same. So he put his body through the same amount of stress as I did, even though it only took me 2 hours to get 200 TSS points and it might take Lance Armstrong 3 hours – or even an hour, depending on how hard he’s going.”

The third is from a co-worker, who’s Slapdown Index is calculated from the number of hours of sleep she had the night before, the length of her commute that morning, and the frequency of annoying email requests she gets before 10:00am. A high Slapdown Index is a leading indicator of her propensity to inflict bodily harm on those who dare approach her cube.

I’ve started using Jam Factor, TSS, and Slapdown Index to optimize my daily performance. What composite metrics have you found to be useful?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Incredible insight.