Google Maps–both mobile and web versions– include real-time, crowd-sourced traffic information. This is something that others have been trying to do for years, if not for decades. Google is quietly making it happen now, leveraging the rapid uptake in Google Maps for Mobile (notably, but not exclusively, on the Android platform), plus the always-on nature of the mobile phone.
In my day-to-day life, I have not gotten all that much benefit from this feature. I have checked it out, but I live in a second-tier traffic city, Minneapolis-St. Paul, where rush hour is more or less just that, a mere hour or two. So mostly I can check the MN-DOT website and quickly see the arterial congestion. There aren’t a lot of alternate routes to consider.
But today, I was driving with my wife and family, from visiting my parents in northern VA, to the BWI airport in Baltimore. Unexpectedly, I ran into traffic, even though it was Sunday afternoon. Heavy traffic. So heavy that we started getting nervous about the time, even though we had left ourselves a 1+ hour cushion.
So I took a look at Google Traffic. Bad news–there was an even bigger stretch of slow traffic farther ahead on I-295. So while Beth drove, I plotted an alternate route, skirting 295 until traffic broke up. It was a little nerve-wracking, and not the easiest thing, using a handheld-size screen, but it paid off. We arrived still in good time.
So for those of you “lucky” enough to live in tier 1 traffic cities 😉 , I think Google Traffic could prove useful on a more day-to-day basis.