The Intelematics Australia SUNA Traffic Channel Service has today been added to Google Maps, resulting in near real-time information on traffic congestion levels.
At launch the SUNA information is provided only for capital cities and major regional centres on the Australian Eastern seaboard – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Wollongong, NSW Central Coast, Geelong and the Sunshine Coast.
The information comes to Google Maps a couple of different ways. Firstly, SUNA uses in-road sensors and cameras located throughout covered cities, plus interprets real-time data from traffic light infrastructure in the various states. The involvement of Google Maps adds a new dimension to the data gathered by SUNA. If you’re using Google Maps on your mobile phone, and the phone is GPS-enabled, by choosing to allow the device to use your current location, the GPS will detect your location and rate of movement, and feed the information into the real-time system.
Just in case the mesh of you, your phone and your movements trips off a little Big Brother alarm, wondering about the safety of contributing this info, Google say this:
“Privacy protections were built into this feature right from the start. We only use anonymous speed and location information to calculate traffic conditions, and only do so when you have chosen to enable My Location on your phone. Scale provides further privacy protection: when a lot of people are reporting data from the same area, we combine their data together to make it hard to tell one phone from another. And even though the vehicle carrying a phone is anonymous, we don’t want anybody to be able to find out where that anonymous vehicle came from or where it went — so we find the start and end points of every trip and permanently delete that data.”
If you’d like to stop your phone from sending anonymous location data back to Google, just opt-out in your phone’s menu or GPS settings.
To view this new service on the web-based Google Maps, click the ‘Traffic’ button in the upper right-hand corner of the map. When selected you’ll see another layer of information overlay the map, with a legend in the upper right-hand corner explaining the colours and their relation to traffic flow speed.