How Does Google Know About the Traffic?

I am a huge fan of google maps, and after spending a good deal of time on the road these last few months, I’m a bigger fan than ever.

In particular, one feature has been enormously helpful …. and that is the TRAFFIC information that you can see on your travels. If you are going on a road trip, this is an extremely valuable feature.

Just pull out the side menu and tap on “traffic” to activate it.

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And then …. head out on the highway. If the road up ahead is green, you’re good to go. If you see yellow, expect some traffic build up. And red? Uh, oh. Heavy, heavy traffic is in your future. The deeper the red, the stuck-er you’ll be. 😦

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If you look ahead before you drive, you can often avoid the red spots, making your travel much more pleasant.

Now …. back to the question I posed in the title of this blog post: How (the heck) does Google know about the traffic? Even our local radio station fails to report the congested spots, so how on earth does Google know it?

Hint: They don’t have invisible helicopters or secret satellites. 😆

The simple answer is: Crowdsourcing. Our smart phones come with GPS. As we drive by cell phone towers, our phones are tracked. If a clump of smart phones get bunched up along the highway, google interprets that as a traffic jam….. and let’s you know about it.

For a comprehensive explanation of this, you can read about it here and here.

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6 thoughts on “How Does Google Know About the Traffic?

  1. Very interesting Sharecare, I thought also you may be interested in this video here too, about our smart phones and how they can be used when we post photos to trace the photo back to the address, scary when you think how it could be used …

    Here is the Video link.. Sue

  2. SC, just coming to the party, late as usual these days, but when you say Google maps, is this something that comes with iPhone, or is it an app you order? My one little map thingie on my phone seems to be an AT&T thing, and not nearly so detailed as this looks to be.

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