Thursday, November 15, 2012

Know Your Traffic!

The term “Traffic Update” is usually associated with FM Radio where jazzy RJ’s keep yapping about daily traffic jams in the city. It’s a good thing they do, but the major drawback is –
  • You need to wait and keep listening to the radio for traffic updates
  • You cannot ask for an update on your route
  • You don’t get the update when you want it. Correct?

In a city like Mumbai, we always wish there would be a real time traffic update system that lets one know which roads are congested and which are free to travel. Well, the wait is over, as Google has nailed it!
Google Maps shows real time traffic updates in major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai and it’s awesomely accurate. I have tested it on various routes while travelling in the city. It helps plan the best possible route.

On your phone (ofcourse you need a phone with Google Maps installed on it), launch Google Maps. There is a “Layers” option, mostly in the application Menu. Select “Traffic” there, like in the screen bellow –

Launch Google Maps - Select "Layers" from Menu
And Eureka! You have the city traffic update in your hand.

Know the color codes –
Green – Free flow. Few vehicles. Zooooom with ease
Yellow – Moving traffic. A little more vehicles
Red – Lots of traffic. Slow moving
Dark Red – Bumper to Bumper stop and slow moving traffic
No Color – No traffic update…..yet

Check out few screens below.

Traffic on Western Express Highway
near my home - Today, 10PM
Traffic at Bandra, Sealink - Today, 11PM

Now check out the traffic at Marine Drive, Queens Neckless today at 11PM in the screen below. All roads in this screen show no traffic but Marine Drive shows Red, indicates traffic jam or slow moving vehicles. Can you guess why? Common...Guess Guess! (Answer below the screen)

Marine Drive Traffic today at 11PM
Its Diwali season, so people at this time bursting firecrackers at Marine Drive. So many cars stop by to see firecrackers, hence the slow moving traffic jam J

Isn’t it amazing we have the entire map, with live traffic feeds in our hands!  Well this piece of technology is not something recent or new. It’s been used in USA, Europe, and many other countries. But this is one thing that Mumbai really needed........isn’t it? J

So now you can plan / estimate your travel times with ease. But as we use this service or technology, its a wonder to know how Google manages to get these updates? What method do they use to calculate traffic at real times? Let me know what you think. 

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