Tag Archives: maps

Google GPS Navigation Needs Traffic Prediction

I use navigation on my Android phone to pick out the best route to work each morning. The problem is, it bases time estimates on traffic conditions now — not traffic conditions as they’ll be when I get to each point along the route. I’ve gotten used to the morning drive taking at least 15 minutes* longer and the evening drive taking around 10 minutes less than predicted, but a little more precision would be helpful.

Obviously, Google isn’t psychic. They can’t predict where and when car crashes will happen. But they do have historical traffic data. If you go to Google Maps on the web and display traffic, you can switch between live data and an average for a given time and day of the week.

It would be fantastic if Google used that data to predict how much slower (or faster) traffic will be moving at each point along each projected route, and use that for the time estimates. It would be nice for the “Are we there yet?” factor, but it would be incredibly useful for route planning!

*Sometimes more. This morning, it predicted a 55-minute trip. It took me an hour and 35 minutes.

GPS Navigation Convert (Sort of)

I’ve never been a fan of actually using GPS navigation. Sure, I’ve always thought it was insanely cool that it was possible, I just didn’t want to use it myself. For unfamiliar destinations I generally prefer researching a route first, and for familiar ones I generally prefer just relying on my local knowledge. But I’ve found something that I do like using it for: Traffic.

I recently started a new job, exchanging a fairly short commute for a ~40-mile trek across the Los Angeles freeway system. Under ideal conditions, it’s about 45 minutes. When the freeways are bogged down (i.e. when I’m actually going to be driving), it can take an hour and a half or more.

When I landed the job, I replaced my phone with a G2. It’s a heck of a lot faster than my old phone, plus it can handle newer software…like Google’s turn-by-turn navigation app for Android. After trying a couple of different routes the first few days, I tried it out…and discovered that it factors in live traffic data when calculating the remaining time.

The upshot: I can walk out the door, start up the app, and figure out which of three main routes will get me there fastest. (Well, least slowly, anyway.)

Of course, it’s not perfect. It’s based on traffic now, and over the course of a predicted hour-plus, the route could easily get more congested. That’s not even counting potential accidents. It does seem to update frequently, though, and knowing I’ve avoided a 100-minute drive in favor of 70 minutes really outweighs the annoyance of a mechanical voice telling me how to get to the freeway from home.

I do have to remember not to rely on it too heavily at the end of the trip, though. I left it on by mistake after selecting my route to the LA Convention Center for Adobe MAX this morning, and instead of turning it off, I let it direct me straight past the parking garage.

Oops.

Linkage: Authorship, Allergies & Alternate History

Catching up on interesting links from the past week.

Balkanized North America Map (thumbnail)Balkanized North America: what if every region that started independent had stayed that way, and every region that threatened to secede from the US or Canada had succeeded? (via ***Dave)

Enter Sandman: Who wrote “Footprints”? You’ve probably read the poem, or heard it, in which the narrator dreams of walking along a beach with God, and looking back and noting how many sets of footprints there are at different points in their life. It turns out at least four people claim authorship. (via Neil Gaiman)

Lunar UnicycleRetro-Future: To the Stars! Science-fiction illustrations from 1930–1970, many of them from Soviet/Eastern Bloc countries. (via Slashdot, though I noticed it popped up again today on The Beat)

My Son’s Food Allergies: Danger Every Day: An essay on a family dealing with their toddler’s serious (i.e. life-threatening) food allergies. I am so glad I didn’t have things this bad when I was younger. Fortunately for me, mine didn’t get really dangerous until I was around 17 or 18—just in time to go off to college and get exposed to all kinds of strange food! (Found on CNN)

Citizens Against Ugly Street Spam (CAUSS): volunteer group that tears down unsightly (and illegal) signs stapled to telephone poles and such. I saw their site a few years ago, but had no idea that they were not only still around, but had expanded to multiple cities. (again, via ***Dave)

Maps and Music

Leave it to MapQuest to remind you that the nearby railroad actually is the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (and immediately lodge the song into your mind).

Actually, I’m also reminded of a Forbidden Broadway bit on a musical version of Anna Karenina, which finished with the parody, “On the Ashkabad, Tblisi and the Kiev Express.”

Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that we went out to see The Musical of Musicals: The Musical last night at the Laguna Playhouse. (It’s a musical, by the way.) It features a cast of four performing the same melodrama plot five times, once each in the styles of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Kander & Ebb. The musical styles were dead on, the show was hilarious in its own right, and it was packed with in-jokes so if you’ve seen enough of the shows they’re lampooning, it’s even better.