Skip to main content

Where does Google get it's live traffic data from?

Referring to a post that I wrote earlier, Google’s - Live traffic Layer, ever wondered how Google collected this data? I was wondering the other day, how Google received live data to display it on their maps as a layer! I looked up the web and found something very interesting and am sharing the same with you all.

As we all know, the traffic layer is available most accurately in several states in USA. Most major metro areas in the US have sensors embedded in their highways. These sensors track real time traffic data. Easy to miss at high speeds (hopefully anyway, traffic permitting), more commonly noticed may be the similar sensors that often exist at many busy intersections that help the traffic lights most efficiently let the most amount of people through. The information from these tracking sensors is reported back to the Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT uses this data to update some of the digital signs that report traffic conditions in many metro areas. They also openly share much of this frequently updated data out, which is how Google reportedly gets this data for the major highways in the metro areas it offers traffic reporting for.

Google has now also crowd sourced the collection of real time traffic data via mobile phones. The way in which they are doing this is pretty cool, and may prove to be a way to some day provide quality real time traffic data for all roadways. If you have a Google Maps installed on a mobile phone with GPS capabilities enabled, your location can be transmitted to Google in real time, allowing them to determine the fact that you are on a particular road and traveling at a certain pace. When Google combines your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, they can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions. Google continuously combines this data and sends it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers. In this way, Google can now offer traffic reports for secondary roadways, routes not necessarily containing DOT sensors.

We now have a list of all the places where Google shows live traffic information. Check out this awesome map from Google, here. You can read more and see the Google’s traffic layer in action here. If you have read so far, I am sure you would also like to know more about the Google Bicycle routes layer.

Comments

  1. Yes, this is what is expected. I have been testing google traffic for some time now in Italy. It *often* gives an indication of the traffic conditions in near real-time. However sometimes it gets it awfully wrong. I am very curious about where this incorrect info comes from. Also there is no data for most of the roads in Italy, and the data is available for small sections of road here and there in the road network. I am very curious about why data is unavailable for most of the roads and only available in this patchy form.
    George Mu'ammar @GeoMmm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi George.

      The traffic data is not widely available in many countries and that is because of lack of available resource and lot of legal government permissions and stuff go into the actually mapping for companies.

      Also the contribution from the crowd (crowd-sourcing) is not very good in several countries which also results in poor details on the Google Maps and associated services.

      Hope this answers your query. Please keep posting your feedback. Happy to hear from you.

      Regards,
      Shreerang
      Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spatial-Unlimited/185149371538692

      Delete
  2. Hi,

    Is there any free API for developers which can provide real time traffic speed or calculate time required to travel two points ?

    If there is any other possible way please share me at deep21c@gmail.com

    Thanks,
    Deepchand Singh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Deep.

      Sorry for replying late. As far as the traffic data API goes there are none as far as I know. Please correct me if you have found any.

      For the distance calculation and time required to move from point A to B you can use the Google Distance API.

      Hope this helps. I would be more than happy to answer any more queries.

      Regards,
      Shreerang.
      Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spatial-Unlimited/185149371538692

      Delete
  3. Hi,
    Thanks for this post. Could you please point to some references from where you got this information? I know several agencies that provide traffic data: PeMS (loop detector data for freeways only), Inrix, DoT, Navteq, etc. Was just wondering which of those sources Google employs.
    Best,
    Ish

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ish.

      I know one source for sure and that is Inrix for traffic data. Inrix currently offers data for around 22 countries across North America and Europe. Inrix’s other partners include Audi AG, ADAC, ALK, ANWB, Coyote, the Ford Motor Company, I-95 Coalition, MapQuest, Microsoft, NAVIGON, Tele Atlas, Telmap, TeleNav, Texas Transportation Institute and Toyota.

      Hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Shreerang
      Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spatial-Unlimited/185149371538692

      Delete
  4. Is there an API we can use (or a KML Network feed) that would plot the green/yellow/red traffic conditions? Or is there an RSS/Atom feed that would provide the data (which we could then transform into a KML feed for map plotting)?

    essentially I'm looking for sources (free is best) that would give the data in a machine-readable format to consume and either produce KML or consume KML and plot to a google map.

    Thoughts? Thank you Shreerang!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi...I don't think there would be any such data that would be freely available. Having said so, I will check if I find any. If you find any, please post it here!

      Regards,
      Shreerang
      Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spatial-Unlimited/185149371538692

      Delete
  5. Hi is there any way, someone have access to Google real-time traffic data. I'm working on my Master Theses, comparing City traffic data with google. Would you please help me. My email is OMIDMCSE@HOTMAIL.COM thank you

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is false information .

    Check out this link if you want to really know how Google obtains its data.

    http://googleblog.blogspot.ca/2009/08/bright-side-of-sitting-in-traffic.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. This isnt false Wth are you talking about? Google's article backs up exactly what was said here. Either back up your statements or stop making arrogant comments. You aren't helping anyone.

    ReplyDelete
  8. what they hell is that download the plugin screen crawl you're putting up?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read !! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. traffic exchange

    ReplyDelete
  10. I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read !! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. traffic exchange

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments here...

Recommended for You

Two maps on the same page - Side-by-side

    How good I am feeling to post a code example after such a long time! It's been all "news" over the past so many posts! Well now that I am finally doing a code example, I am posting a very highly requested code sample. Placing two Google Maps on the same page (Now that's simple you would say!), but side by side. Now this is the thing that most people struggle with. Well, implementing the second part is also very simple, as you will see in today's code.     Let's see the code. Here it is!     The output of the above code will be as seen in the result section above.     As most of you will realize, there are two maps, one centered at "Pune" and other at "Noida". Why I chose these two locations? Well, just like that!...The main issue of concern is how the maps appeared side-by-side and not one below the other as would be normal behavior of two "div" elements used in the same page. Now here is the trick! Check out the th

Four maps on the same page - Playing with events

    In today's example we will see how to add 4 maps on the same web page and then play a bit around with some events in Google Maps API. Lets have a look at the code. All that you have to do to get the code working is copy the code in a text file and save it with .html extension. Open this html file in your browser and you will see the four maps in action!     Adding the four maps on a webpage should not be a challenge anymore, and all the more after the example Two Google Maps - Side by side that I shared a few weeks back! All you need to pay attention is to the events. There are two events "drag" and "zoom_changed". As the event names suggest, when you will drag or zoom the first map (upper left map), the remaining three maps will also zoom and pan accordingly! Try it out and leave a comment of what you think of it! You can also drop your queries or doubts about the same here!     The output of the above code appears as seen in the results section ab

Playing with the markers and info window bubbles...

    In the last few posts, we have seen some marker examples and some information window examples. Now, lets do something interesting combining these two things. Just writing that "This is an info window" in the information bubble is not very interesting! And I know this...Have gone through the same phase!     So, today we will do something interesting! We will display the latitude- longitude co-ordinates of the point that the user clicks on the map! Doing this is not at all complex! Copy paste the following code and you will see for yourself a map coming to life!     The output of the above code looks as seen in the result section above! If you have any queries regarding the above code please comment on the blog post or feel free to contact me at my mail ID .

Form info window

         Today we will look at a Google Maps API v3 example to add a form in the information bubble! This is usually required when we wish to accept some data/information from the user! This data can be saved to a server in the form of an XML file or a database! The information can then be retrieved back at a later stage, when necessary!          In this example we will only look at form in the information bubble! The connectivity part with the server will be discussed in another post! So, today's code snippet is as seen below! <html> <head> <title> Google Maps API v3 - Adding marker and info window on Click and creating a form in the infowindow with the lat-lng information in it. </title> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/api/js?sensor=false"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var map;    //When using event as a parameter to a function declare map, strictly as a

Learning React in #41Tweets

Sounds crazy, right? 😲Not really. It is possible! This is no magic pill ✨ . There is no substitute for practice and experience , but this will get you started and help you make the right decisions in your React journey. When I started with React, the sheer use of ES6 syntax and difference in the coding style, made me not want to use it. But when I learned and practiced ES6 and then learned and practiced React, that is when I truly fell in love with React 😍 I created a Twitter Moment Learning React ⚛️ which is basically a collection of #41Tweets that will get you off the ground on your React journey. I hope you like this new approach to learning React and hope it is helpful in getting you started 🤝Let me know your feedback and keep the conversation going on Twitter 🐦