google_maps_crowdsourceGoogle is now using the locations and speeds of their mobile users to help each other out.  Rather than finding out where congestion is the hard way, the traffic layer now uses crowdsourcing to help users get a feel for real-time road conditions.

For those of you with GPS enabled handsets with Google Maps loaded, you already contribute to the cause. As long as you allow the app to share your location, little tiny bits of information are being sent to Google and turned into usable data. Combining your speed and direction with the millions of others using the app, Google constantly updates the traffic layer for everyone.


Imagine being able to check Google Maps in the morning and see whether or not you should leave earlier than normal. As phones become smarter and hardware becomes cheaper, GPS will find its way onto more handsets.  It’s interesting to note that of today’s crop of phones, the iPhone Maps application does not support traffic crowdsourcing.  So far, all Android handsets have GPS, and this ability, built in.

For those concerned about privacy, opt-out instructions can be found here.

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