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
  11. The Google Maps Platform server rejected your request. You must use an API key to authenticate each request to Google Maps Platform APIs. For additional information, please refer to http://g.co/dev/maps-no-account

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments here...

Recommended for You

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

The bitter divorce of PSD and HTML

    Today's article is an interesting post that I read. The original post in Portuguese and authored by Fabricio Teixeira  can be found at arquiteturadeinformacao  (Now don't ask me pronounce this =)).     Some are calling it the death of PSD  but I prefer calling it a "divorce". PSD and HTML are both healthy and living strong, just that they do not live together anymore. "PSD to HTML", which for years was the most accurate and sometimes the only right path to web design process, seems like has its days counted.     Firstly you draw a page in Photoshop; impeccable layout, representing exactly how the web pages would appear when opened in a browser. After a sign-off on this picture (PSD) from the client the front end developer transforms these pictures into HTML, CSS and Javascript. The assets are cut, one by one, exported from the PSD and integrated into the HTML. Plugins and new tools are created in the process and some companies even charge upto $1

Punjab cities to implement GIS...

            The Punjab government is all set to implement ultra modern GIS systems in 6 big cities of Punjab namely Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Batinda and Pathakot to facilitate future planning, expansion and maintenance of civic infrastructure in these cities. The GIS will be implemented in these cities by October 31, 2011, which would be further implemented in other districts of the state.             Complete information of these cities will be available on the GIS which should prove beneficial and helpful during the preparation of "Master Plans" of these cities in the future. The satellite images of these cities will be taken which would later on be developed to form a large database. The maps that will be generated would provide detailed information on roads and rail networking along with exact locations of bus stops and railway stations. The maps will also show detailed information on the commercial, industrial and residential areas of the city which woul

Follow Your World!

         Google now offers you a simple application that informs you by email each time we update the satellite and aerial imagery in your area of interest. Follow Your World is a free service that allows you to enter the lat/long of a location along with your email address. Whenever any imagery is updated for that location, an email alert will be sent.          Our surroundings are constantly changing, so it's no surprise that Google Earth and Google Maps users often request the most up-to-date satellite and aerial imagery. While Google can't necessarily update the world's imagery in real-time, they can let you know when they do update this imagery.          In just three easy steps, you can add points such as your hometown, your college, or just about any place on the Earth. Step 1. Find a location. Search for the area by entering the name of a country, state, city, or a specific address. You can also enter the exact latitude/longitude of the location. Click Search