I doubt that you’re not using at least two products of Google at this very moment. It’s hard to not rely on the megacorporation’s services given the wide portfolio they have accumulated. I would go as far as to say that – like it or not, Google is an integral part of our everyday technological life and the way we experience the Internet…and our communication in it.
While some of Google’s products receive a lot coverage, others remain strangely unnoticed. This is the case with Google Traffic. It is somewhat “nichey” compared with other Google services, but still it is of great value to drivers – especially for those who have the dubious pleasure of driving around the congested streets of metropolises.
This lack of attention is the reason I’ll be presenting Google Traffic in the current article. What exactly is Google Traffic? How does Google Traffic work? Anything extraordinary about it?
Let’s take a look at how Google aims to make life more comfortable for city drivers.
What is Google Traffic?
Google traffic is a feature on the famous Google Maps service. It displays the current traffic conditions (that’s right – in real-time) on both highways and major roads. While not available everywhere, it’s still somewhat widely distributed with its presence in over 50 countries.
There are two ways to access Google Traffic. You can do so either via the Google Maps website, or just use the Google Maps app on your smartphone or tablet.
The service’s roots come from ZipDash, a company that specialized traffic analysis back in 2004. We all know that Google have the habit of spotting good opportunities and acting on them. This is exactly what happened with ZipDash, when in 2007 Google integrated the smaller company’s technology into Google Maps. The end result is nothing less than Google Traffic.
How does Google Traffic work?
Google Traffic works a bit easier than you might have expected – it just analyzes GPS-determined locations that are transmitted by mobile users in the area. The service follows an algorithm that calculates the users’ speed on a strech of road and this is how a live traffic map is generated. Having this “end product” ready, Google then analyzes and processes the incoming raw data and sorts through it. Why? Well, “anomalies” such as postal vehicles or other non-typical vehicles are left out to not skew the results.
Did that help with understanding how Google Traffic works? I sure hope so!
Google Maps’ traffic feature also uses three colors to indicate a road’s traffic condition. Areas colored in green signify clear roads with no congestion; yellow means that a road is slow-moving and you might need to wait a bit; red is for heavily congested areas where you will be in for quite the stay due to heavy traffic.
How Google Traffic gathers its information is also an interesting phenomenon. Generally, traffic recommendations and area traffic gauging come from two different ways to gather information. One of them is utilizing historical data in order to elaborate the average time it takes to travel through a specific area. Side factors like time of the day, the day itself and other real-time events are taken into account so the estimation can be more plausible.
However, the second way is even more captivating as it involves the sending of real-time data by not only sensors, but also smartphones. That’s right – there is a community aspect to Google Traffic data gathering, with mobile device users contributing to the service and its calculations.
This effectively means that with a rising number of people using smartphones and tablets, the estimates and predictions of Google Traffic can get more accurate. So if this is how Google Traffic works right now, its mechanism and reliability just might get better due to the way (and frequency) users interact with the service.
I hope that you are now a bit more familiar with how Google Traffic works! The next step is to see if the service is available in your country, and you yourself contribute to its accurate estimates. I’m sure many other drivers will be happy to gauge the road conditions better!