Monday, 17 August 2009

iPhone - Traffic update User Generated in Real Time

A new application is available for the iPhone and other mobile devices that provides traffic information (mainly aiming at individual car traffic) and at the same time records traffic conditions to update the information.
This commercial application is called WAZE and is at the moment only available in the states and Israel it seems. It is developed by Ehud Shabtai, Uri Levine and Amir Shinar. It is one of the first truly crowed sourced applications. The user data from GPS will automatically generate a live map. If the user moves slowly it will show as a red trail on the road and others can see that there might be a traffic jam. In addition users can also upload detailed information such a speed cam or accident and even record additional roads that do not yet appear on the map. A guided tour with comments can be found here. The WAZE fan page on facebook is here.

There are two questions that I allow to ask. One is the obvious question of how to verify the user generated data. Who can be trusted and who might just play whit he application. For example if I would be using it (I don’t own a car) and log data while walking there would be red roads where ever I go. So is there some sort of filtering and overriding feature built into the automatic live mapping?
The second question is one that I already ask myself while reading about the MIT user and especially mobile phone focused research in Carlo Ratti’s SENSABLECity team were they also claim for products that help individual car drivers to find better ways through the cit. Why would we want to develop and use something as old fashioned a this? Individual car traffic so 1920. And in this century still being trapped in this discussion about being fast and powerful and independent and so on is a bit sad actually. I don’t believe this can provide us with a global solution and is just another attempt to strengthen individual needs in a struggling urban environment.
But in this case a technologically advanced cool gadget for the cool gadget you already own so why not using it!

The MIT project is a bit older and called CarTel. It is a bit more complicated but essentially works the same way. The iPhone and Android option obviously is pretty hot. The graphic is a bit too playful and child like for my test and could be a tick more formal ad serious but there you go.

Image from - live map

Thanks to gisagents

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