One of the greatest things I love about my Android phone is the navigation system, and the ability for it to see current traffic conditions and adjust my time (and even my route) accordingly. They’ve taken it even further with “Google Now” on newer Android phones, and they’ll proactively tell you when it’s time to leave for an appointment, based on your current location (via GPS), destination location (from your calendar) and the current traffic along the way. Kind of scary, but amazingly cool!
Those systems have just become more useful thanks to 130 new cities that Google has added traffic data for, including locations in Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and the United States.
Since 2007, Google has had real-time traffic information in Google Earth. While it’s certainly more useful on mobile devices, the data in Google Earth is much more detailed then you’ll find on Google Maps. Google Maps takes all of their points of data and generalizes the conditions on each road. This is a great way to do it, as it shows you the overall traffic situation at a glance, but doesn’t give you the exact details.
By turning on the traffic data in Google Earth (found under the “More –> Traffic” area of your layers, you can see amazing amounts of details. You’ll see hundreds of individual dots along the roads, and each can be clicked to see the exact speed captured at that location.
I’d like to see Google include a timestamp with each, as it’s impossible to know how fresh the data really is. In my experience it tends to be remarkably fresh, but a timestamp in the info window there would be great.
Most of this data is collected from Android users on the road, and as more Android devices continue to be activated this data will only keep getting better. Be sure to read the post on the Google Lat Long Blog to learn more about the new cities that now have traffic data.