21 June 2012
Motorists in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria can now plan their commuting by accessing live traffic updates through Google Maps, following the launch of the service in South Africa.
New users can check traffic conditions by visiting maps.google.co.za and clicking on the traffic layer in the widget on the upper right-hand side of the map.
This traffic information is also available on Google Maps for mobile devices, by selecting the “view traffic” option in the mobile application.
Google Maps has expanded the traffic service to seven more countries around the globe – Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Mexico, Peru, Romania and South Africa.
It was introduced alongside upgrades in coverage in the 19 countries around the world which already received the feature.
“The traffic data allows you to see current traffic conditions, and also gives you estimated travel times,” Google Maps software engineer Matthias Ernst said in a statement.
Live traffic coverage features a colour-coded rating system on a scale from slow to fast, and uses crowd-sourcing. This means it analyses data such as the speed the car is moving – which is received from GPS-enabled phone users – and compiles it into information drivers can use.
“This is exactly the kind of technology that we love at Google because it’s so easy for a single person to help out, but can be incredibly powerful when a lot of people use it together,” said product manager Dave Barth.
“We’ve already been able to provide useful traffic information with the help of our existing mobile users, but we hope that is just the start,” Barth said. “As GPS- enabled phones and data plans get less expensive, more people will be able to participate.”
It is expected that other South African cities will be able to access the service in the near future, as Google is constantly updating and improving their coverage.
“We hope the traffic feature in Google Maps will help more users around the globe to save time and patience by planning their trips accordingly,” Ernst said.