SA traffic on Google Maps

2012-06-20 14:31

Cape Town - Google has launched real-time traffic updates for Maps users in South African cities.

Users of the popular internet service in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town will, from Wednesday, have access to traffic updates both on computers online, as well as on smartphones.

The system works by collecting anonymous data from users as they travel and the search giant compiles the information into a useable format for travellers.

"When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions," wrote Dave Barth, the product manager for Google Maps on the company's official blog.

A quick test of the system revealed that information is produced in real time and Google uses green markers to indicate free-flowing traffic and red to show congestion.


Google said that the crowd-sourcing technique was key to developing the system. Even though Android devices are in the minority in SA, any mobile device running Google Maps was capable of transmitting data.

"We achieve scale by making Google Maps for mobile easy to install and use, and by making it easy for people to provide information about their own vehicle speed. There's no extra device to plug into your car and no extra software to buy. Google Maps is free and works with most cellphones, and the number of cellphones with GPS is rising every day," said Barth.

The accuracy of the information is proportional to the number of mobile devices on a particular road and a quick survey revealed that minor roads do not have adequate information, but major arteries are well-covered.

In addition, the software allows users to map the traffic patterns at a specified time and in selected cities, warnings of lane closures are also made available.

The technology should enable users to gauge when the best time is for the commute home from the office to use the least amount of fuel, but drivers are strongly encouraged not to check road conditions on smartphones while driving.

Google recently updated the way its popular mapping program works by launching the Street View Trekker platform that gives a 360° view of wilderness areas.

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  • charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-06-20 14:55

    me likes

      rob.stefanini - 2012-06-21 00:18

      try waze. They already have this service and more. It's awesome!

      rory.mapstone - 2012-06-21 08:43

      Agree on Waze. Google maps is a data hog that does not offer turn by turn navigation on iPhone. Waze does this and is far lighter on data.

  • calliedj - 2012-06-20 15:11

    Hope they can distinguish between phones in cars and those on motorbikes...

      calliedj - 2012-06-20 15:46

      Oh good, I was reeeaaalllyy worried there...

  • nadine.bushell - 2012-06-20 15:26

    Yay At Last - I remember using this in LA in 2008!

  • tgif.wtfaw - 2012-06-20 15:33

    Awesome !!!!!!!!!!

  • Stirrer - 2012-06-20 16:09

    There goes the bandwidth... there goes the battery...

      lydonmcg - 2012-06-20 16:39

      No one's forcing you to use it...

  • neo.rashudu - 2012-06-20 16:22

    Where can we get it? Is it released yet?

      lydonmcg - 2012-06-20 16:40

      If you have Google Maps installed on your device, it would already have the traffic functionality built into. It will just start to display traffic now if you have the option enabled (whereas in the past it would only do this for selected countries).

  • KeenanMag - 2012-06-20 16:31

    Google obviously watched Apple's 2012 WWDC keynote and got a bit scared.

      BobbyM - 2012-06-20 16:55

      So you believe that they created, tested and launched this product in under 2 weeks?

      Dean Barrett - 2012-06-21 08:29

      Well I for one don't want Apple Maps over Google Maps and this is just one more reason why...

  • paul.urbanX - 2012-06-20 16:55

    Google, have my baby!

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