Sensors in the Roadway

Us Angelenos love our traffic information. The most common way of getting it is through Sigalert.Com, but Google Traffic is a close second. We all know that Sigalert gets their data from sensors in the roadway. But what about Google, which even gives the ability to see traffic on surface streets? Where does it get its data?

The answer is buried in this article about Google Maps deleting the estimates of travel times in traffic from its routings:

In late 2009, the search giant started crowdsourcing traffic data, feeding bits of information sent to its servers from smartphones into the database that powered the Google Maps traffic feature. “When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast you’re moving,” Google explained in an official blog post. “When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions.”

So as you go around town with smart phone, just remember you have the gratitude of all the people depending on you to give us accurate travel data. We really don’t care where you are, but are interested in how fast you are getting there.