Google Maps gives us information instantly; as for traffic. To do this, it relies in part on the triangulation of the thousands of signals it receives from different mobiles. But “help” from users is not always enough to display information in real time. Other mechanisms are needed.
Nowadays, Google Maps is gradually activating a new feature: began to show the location of traffic lights. From a small icon in the shape of a traffic light and its three colors, the Maps application will show us where one of them is located, equivalent to when it tells us that there is a speed camera.
Open the door to map apps where traffic lights determine our route
The traffic lights on Google Maps have reached a small group of users. At the moment a small icon is displayed and there is no information about their green, red or amber color. It should be understood that this is a new function and that it must gradually increase its precision.
However, the commitment to display traffic lights is not unique to Google Maps. Since the release of iOS 13 last year, the The Apple Maps app also includes nearby traffic light warnings.
This feature opens the door to create a whole host of options depending on the traffic lights. For example, a user could mark a route where there are fewer traffic lights.
For now, we’ll have to wait to see this feature in Europe, as it appears to be US-only. Although, following the habits of Google Maps, it is predictable that it will eventually reach the rest of the world within a few months.
From forecasts to real-time information
Google tends to offer prediction tools in its mapping application. We have seen it, for example, with the routes or with information from local customers. But this data is only available in cases where Google has obtained sufficient information and they cannot be added manually by users.
But in the case of the customers of a place, we also have the possibility of making it live. In other words, Google Maps shows the prediction in blue but alerts us in red in case the real-time information does not match what was expected.
Google’s predictive ability is able to inform us if the bus, train or metro we are going to board is full, if there are delays in public transport or if there is a street that is cut off by a broken down vehicle, an object on the road or work.
Recently, Google Maps also displayed alerts movement restrictions by COVID-19. This information does not come from users or Google algorithms, but rather from a more reliable source.
Where does the data for Google Maps come from?
Google leverages information from several different sources, in addition to collaborating with users and forecasting crowds. The fact is that Google Maps works with local agencies and municipal organizations. In other words, some of the information on Google Maps is taken from open data that cities offer to third parties.
Gone are the days when Google Maps cars had to travel the city streets; lately, many Google embeds are pulled directly from the official websites of the authorities in each location.
Google has a third-party tool called Downloading geographic data, where authorities or governments can share their data for implementation on Google Maps. Through services like this, municipalities could share their traffic light information with Google and even sync so that the traffic light status appears as well.
The reverse case: adapt the traffic lights according to the traffic detected by Google Maps
Thanks to tools like Google Street View, Google is able to recognize traffic light conditions using computer vision, but its real-time implementation is still a long way off.
From a different perspective, it is interesting to know the Electronic City district project in Bangalore, India. Here there is six traffic lights connected to the network using Google Maps to find out traffic status and speed and self-regulate their position.
These signals use a technology called “dynamic signaling” which establishes different phases to reduce waiting times. This is an experimental project, but an example of how Google Maps is already being used to influence traffic through traffic lights. And it is that the API of Google Maps is not infallible, but it does not seem far-fetched to imagine that in the future Google Maps will also inform us in real time of the position of the traffic lights.
At the moment, some users may already verify their location. Google Maps and traffic lights have been a marriage that has been slow to happen, but it can have a long journey.
Source : Engadget