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Offline AshSimmonds

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Google Maps offers live gridlock-breaker

THE creators of Google Maps have taken the technology further down the information superhighway to launch a feature that allows Australian commuters to view up-to-date traffic flow information.

The feature, which is displayed in the Google Maps format, is available in the capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as Wollongong, the NSW Central Coast, Geelong, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

Traffic information about motorways, as well as major and minor arterial routes, are displayed in the feature.

Colours overlaid on the Google Maps roads correspond to the speed of traffic, with green meaning "free sailing", yellow "medium congestion", red "heavy congestion" and black refers to "a parking lot".

Also available on mobile phones, passengers can check it out while commuting to suggest real time route changes based on the data.

Google product manager Andrew Foster says the information will be updated every few minutes.

"We know Google Maps is already an essential tool for Australians as they plan trips and the mobile version is being used more and more to help people when they're out and about," Mr Foster said.

"The new traffic information on Google Maps will help drivers make smarter decisions as they plan their routes, leading to faster trips for them and reducing overall load on congested areas."

The traffic information on Google Maps comes from data provider Intelematics Australia and is sourced from data from other motorists.

This means motorists provide information on current traffic conditions by setting their mobile phone up to share anonymous data.

But it's actually less time-consuming than it sounds.

All motorists have to do is set their mobile devices to have Google Maps for mobile running, GPS enabled and the "My Location" feature turned on.

This will then send anonymous bits of information back to Google about how fast the device is moving on that particular road.

When combined with the data from other similarly-enabled devices, this helps Google Maps create a graph on how traffic conditions are in that area.


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