a new feature that utilizes the functionality of GPS-enabled smart
phones to measure traffic conditions on major US highways and
arterials. The traffic stats are compiled from whatever data is
available at the time based on the speed and direction that users are
traveling. The more people using the service at a given time, the more
accurate the reports
The service is provided entirely free of charge with Google Maps,
but some consumers are concerned that the information being used to
track their cars could be used for other purposes. Google
has added a host of privacy features to the application to assuage
these fears; data is combined from multiple phones before reaching
Google, making it hard to identify any one phone from another, and all
of the information is anonymous in nature. In addition, users are
easily able to opt out of sending their location data to Google. As a
final security measure, Google’s software determines the start and end
points of every trip it tracks and deletes them, so that nobody can
track where a vehicle came from or where it ended up. After deletion,
not even Google will have the data.
Several phones come with Google Maps pre-installed such as the Palm Pre, MyTouch 3G, and Apple’s iPhone. With such a large user base, the traffic monitoring software should quickly become a central feature of Google Maps.
Photo courtesy of dannysullivan under the Creative Commons License.