Where does UK iPhone traffic info come from?
December 20, 2011 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Where does the iPhone get traffic information from in the UK? I'm guessing that multiple councils and the highways agency collect the raw data. Who collates it? Is there a publicly available database somewhere? And how often is it updated?
posted by beniamino to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the traffic information comes from Google (as the iPhone uses Google Maps). I think Google might pay a company like Traffic Master, who have installed anonymous traffic speed sensors on most of the UK's main roads.


The UK Highways Agency also publish data though as well so I can't be sure who Google actually use.

posted by derbs at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2011

The iPhone uses Google Maps for traffic information. Google Maps originally got much of its real-time traffic information from companies that monitor roadways and gather information from a number of sources. One source of this information is from location and speed data collected by companies that sell auto-updating GPS navigation systems. Google also uses "croudsourcing". Everytime you look at Google Maps on an iPhone or Android cellphone, if you have GPS enabled on your phone the phone sends anonymized location and speed data back to Google. Google collates this information to estimate traffic conditions.
posted by RichardP at 8:44 AM on December 20, 2011

Who collates it? Is there a publicly available database somewhere? And how often is it updated?

I used to work for a transport company that was involved in analysing some of the data from the Highways Agency. Which currently govern the strategic roads network (most motorways and some major A-roads), in England.
The way I understood it worked was by an induction loop in the ground, which registered when a vehicle passed above. By having two such loops separated by a given distance, it was possible to find the speed over this section. This was read back into a huge database, known as TRADS.
The data was stored as seperately for each lane of a motorway, as the speeds between lanes 1, 2, and 3 can (and do) differ significantly. Particularly when you consider freight traffic.

It's a monumental set of data table, recording every minute (I think).

If you want this Highways Agency data, then the best place to start might be here.

Real time information for the HA network is available here here.

As for trafficmasters data, I think you might struggle to obtain that, as it is a commercial company. I remember that the company I used to work for could not get access - 'commercially sensitive'.

If you want more details, PM me.

Interesting to here that the crowdsourcing idea has taken off, it was talked about 4 years ago in my previous workplace.
posted by 92_elements at 2:43 AM on December 21, 2011

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