Google Maps adds arterial traffic monitoring


Traffic monitoring has been available on Google Maps for some time, but has been limited to highways and major roads. According to the Google LatLong blog, traffic tracking support is now available for smaller surface roads in select cities. The data is gathered through mobile phones running My Location. Anybody wishing to help out can sign up their phone and opt into My Location to participate in the anonymous data collection. Now you won’t have to gamble on whether or not your back road alternative route is congested when there’s construction on the freeway. Dash tried something similar with their two-way traffic reporting, but we’re guessing that Google’s version will have even better performance thanks to a rapidly increasing install base.


  1. macegr says:

    This is incredible…I happen to live in one of the cities and a lot of my local streets now have live traffic monitoring. Good stuff….

  2. amk says:

    looks pretty accurate for the city I live near. But the traffic data covers up road names and other lables, which is stupid.

  3. O Mattos says:

    amk: thats a flaw of the design of the google maps system. The raterised tiled maps mean that either they can have multiple layers (eg. map, traffic, labels), but that would use more bandwidth, more local ram, more sluggish, and be less reliable (more images to download).

    What they should do, now that all the decent browsers support vector graphics is to re-implement the maps using fully scalable vectors – then there is no additional cost to layering. As an added bonus, zooming will be a much better experience (no “blurry” map showing until the high res tiles are loaded – you simply get more information arriving and polygons getting more detailed.). It would also have the other big advantage you wouldn’t need “zoom levels” anymore, and you could adjust the text size and detail level. You could also easily turn on and off data layers like contors.

    The barrier to implementing this at the moment I suspect is IE’s lack of decent vector graphics support, and the lack of optimisation in all browsers for displaying frequently changing very complex documents without significant delays – it’s more effort to render a svg vector image than a png image, because the png image is cached as a bitmap when it gets downloaded, whereas in most cases this isn’t practical for svg.

  4. cptfalcon says:

    I see no reason not to support scalable graphics, it can always fall back on the previous raster version in cases of incompatibility. In fact, I’ve noticed google has a html-only maps fallback that happened sometime this past year.

  5. Peter de Vroomen says:

    This is almost exactly how TomTom is measuring traffic for their HD traffic service. Except TomTom doesn’t require people to install an application. It works with any phone provided it’s from a provider that supports TomTom. And it’s totally anonymous because it does not use any data channel coming from the phone. The way it works, TomTom has no chance whatsoever to get any personal data from the phone.

    In the case of having to run an app on the phone, ‘mistakes’ in the protection of your privacy can be made very easily. Especially if the app is updated very often.

  6. nimrod says:

    so, the traffic is only representative for participating mobiles.

    now, if every tenth mobile opts-in, the road appears to be clear alright, cause 10% of the around mobiles do not appear to clog up the road.

    unfortunately, the not participating mobiles (90%) clog up the road, while the 10% dont know and get stuck in traffic.

    this system is useless unless everyone opts-in and why would i want google (respective the government cause googles cooperates very nicely with govs) to know where i am and when.

    people should be much more certain about their privatsphere. but i guess you all have nothing to hide right :o).

  7. jib says:


    Google isn’t stupid. Measure speed, not number of phones.

  8. andBeans says:

    @nimrod (fitting name)

    It’s called a “sample”. You need to know what ever single person is doing to calculate the traffic patterns. Sure, they’d get better resolution the more people sign up, but probably isn’t need for something like traffic monitoring.

    Also, “privatsphere”? Really? That fuckdiculous!

  9. g-ranger says:

    why is this being posted now? google maps has had this traffic feature for a while

  10. Franks says:


    Did you even read the post?

  11. Andrew says:

    too bad it doesn’t work with the iphone. maybe one day apple will support background apps to make these kinds of things possible

  12. 8way says:

    This is an incredible hack. I hope to implement it in my next DIY project.

  13. nimrod says:

    @andBeans: yep, u have absolutely nothing to hide, not even brain!

  14. andBeans says:

    @nimrod: lol!!!1!! wut?!?!

  15. I have noticed that Garmin product is the best gps over all. This GPS is worth every penny, easy to use and the signal is always good.

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