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Yahoo! Maps to Support Realtime Traffic 208

squidfrog writes "Yahoo is set to support realtime traffic overlays for its existing Yahoo! Maps program. 'Yahoo's dynamic maps draw on real-time traffic information from metropolitan transportation departments and private providers, including embedded road sensors, traffic cameras, police scanners, and traffic helicopters. Yahoo declined to identify the exact sources of its traffic data... Roadways are colored green, yellow and red, to highlight the normal movement of traffic, minor delays or severe road congestion. A user can hover over a stretch of road to view details of impediments.'"
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Yahoo! Maps to Support Realtime Traffic

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  • Great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Icarus1919 ( 802533 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:33AM (#11128175)
    Fantastic, now we have to deal with people stopping to gawk at accidents on the road AND on the internet. JUST DRIVE BY IT! DON'T LOOK! What's wrong with you people!?
    • Anytime there are flashing lights, or people by the side of the road you need to slow down. Doesn't matter that it is on the other side, slow down. You never know when an emergency vehicle is going to be doing a Uie and coming out in front of you, or up behind you. You never know (until you are there) that there isn't a car that skidded across your side.

      For that matter, you never know what the car next to you is really gawking, and will run into you - you need the extra reaction time a slow speed allo

  • The local radio can't even get the traffic patterns right, what makes Yahoo! think they can do better?
    • >local radio

      It's a start, but it will take them a while to get it debugged.

      Yahoo and other services do a good job with sporting events, taking the AP, NFL/MLB/NBA and other feeds and using Java apps to turn that into dynamic box scores.

      This will be no different.

      One thing is that it could prove hugely profitable for Yahoo. According to CNNMoney, they plan to make it available for free, to distinguish themselves from Google. They may offer it as a premium service aimed at portable devices, but I thin
    • In California, many of the highways are already "wired" - they can in fact tell you in real time how traffic is flowing in certain areas, and this info is available to the public.
    • This woman [] has personally saved me from hundreds of hours of sitting in the awful DC traffic. If she didn't scare me so much with her cheerful depictions of road carnage, I'd offer to to take her to lunch out of sheer gratitude.

      Incidentally, I had never seen a picture of her before. She definitely has a face for radio. ;)

      Be that as it may, her reports are the most accurate, timely, and informative of any traffic reporter I have ever heard. We're talking a precise location of each incident, the current

  • by breser ( 16790 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:35AM (#11128179) Homepage []

    and you can even get it on mobile devices: []
  • Damn (Score:3, Funny)

    by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:36AM (#11128185) Homepage
    Apparently my area is not available yet...and I live in the biggest city in NH.
    • Re:Damn (Score:5, Funny)

      by mordors9 ( 665662 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:38AM (#11128192)
      Man, not the largest ciy in NH...... I can't believe they missed that one ;-)
      • Why are you all people laughing? I'm sure the parent poster wanted to say that he lives in the biggest city in the Northen Hemisphere..
    • That's funny. The whole state of NH has less population than.. what, the top 50 major cities in North America? The biggest city in NH is, like... Manchester, population 100,000.

      Dude. Orange County, CA... just one suburb of Los Angeles, has over twice the population of your whole freaking state. Get some perspective.
    • It's not just NH. This service is utterly useless to the 90% of the world's population who don't live in USA or Canada.
      • Re:Damn (Score:5, Funny)

        by jpmkm ( 160526 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:50AM (#11128247) Homepage
        The Taco Bell down the road from me is utterly useless to the 99% of the world's population who doesn't live in my city. They might as well close down since there are so many people who can't use it. How dare they provide a service for some people without taking the entire planet's population into consideration? Those arrogant pricks!
        • Re:Damn (Score:5, Funny)

          by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @01:26AM (#11128369)
          "The Taco Bell down the road from me is utterly useless to the 99% of the world's population who doesn't live in my city."

          1% of the world's population lives in your city? Why on earth would there be a Taco Bell in Mexico City?
          • I can't even begin to think how on earth did that happen, but a long time ago (10 years or something) there used to be a Taco Bell in Mexico City indeed. Maybe they wanted to show us what a taco is supposed to be?

            Very soon, as expected in this land of taco-ignorants, the place went bankrupt, never to be mentioned again. It seems we'll never know what a real taco is and it's a pity, our soft tortillas would never stand a chance against their V-shaped tostadas.

            Seriously, though, I can't imagine anyone here
      • I would bet that in Japan you can already get something like this data. Austraila is much the same as NH. Just not that big of a population. If you think that it could work in your local Yahoo not doing it means that you can. So step up and start a company.
    • You know, I'd like to see the geographic distribution of Slashdot readers. I'm sure there would be the usual clumps in large cites, but it sure seems like I know of or have read posts from a lot of /.ers that live in NH (I'm one of them). Much more than would be expected for the small population. We should band together and bring more high tech services into NH...

      Oh, and build a bigger bridge between Dover and Newington/Portsmouth! I swear that 1/4 of the population of NH drives over that during rush hour
  • This is great (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Now if only they can get the maps right!
  • by OccidentalSlashy ( 809265 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:40AM (#11128200)
    I hope they tie into emergency services too and show lazily rendered orange flames coming from the windows of any burning buildings.

    Come to think about it, how about a Average Income Overlay while we're at it so I know where to look for cheap girls. Er, for cheap monitors.
  • Well, I live in the biggest city in my province, and I bet I'll have to wait longer than you do. Thats why I live in an apartment next to a major roadway, I don't need no stinking Yahoo to see real time traffic patterns, I just open the shades. :P
  • declined because...? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:41AM (#11128204)
    Yahoo declined to identify the exact sources of its traffic data

    I'm going to bet it's because some company is getting data from all the sensors and "traffic center" infrastructure we paid for.

    I seriously doubt they have to pay anything for it aside from maybe the cost of a leased line...and I doubt Yahoo gets it for free from said company. Someone's making a lot of bucks off equipment and staff we pay for...even assuming costs for processing the data.

    Interestingly, I was just driving down Route 3 here in MA, and noticed that they finally had finished most of the construction for widening the road. Also installed- cameras. The tilt-pan-zoom kind. About every mile or so. In between, or sometimes on the same pole, some sort of antenna box pointed at the road, probably to sense how fast cars are moving by.

    Someone want to explain to me how a camera reduces traffic? Considering they have no dynamic ways to alter traffic patterns, seems like a royal fucking waste of money and something bound to be abused.

    • Hmmm... A camera... and a radar detector on the roads you say? Maybe its to clock and photograph speeders.
    • Actually, when you view the map, it displays exactly where its getting its information from. Whether it pays for it or not is still to be determined.

      In regards to traffic cameras being a waste of money, perhaps. But even if they do not currently have any ways to reduce traffic, a simple easy way of knowing where traffic is bad and being able to redirect accordingly should be of some help. Additionally, when the technology is developed to dynamically, intellegently alter traffic patterns, then the infras
    • I don't know if this is one of their sources, but Oakland County, Michigan has had this online for years.

      Traffic and construction maps []
    • by ergo98 ( 9391 )
      Someone want to explain to me how a camera reduces traffic? Considering they have no dynamic ways to alter traffic patterns, seems like a royal fucking waste of money and something bound to be abused.

      Obviously cameras don't reduce the gross flow of traffic, but they might help ensure that the traffic keeps flowing as smoothly as possible - for instance dispatching police, tow trucks, or other emergency crews where necessary. It can also be used for road condition analysis for display on information boards
    • Someone want to explain to me how a camera reduces traffic?

      The main reason is so they can take a look if there is crash requiring the attendance of emergency services and repair crews.

      In the normal course of events there would be an automated incident detection system, using online traffic flow data from vehicle detector loops under the road surface, which tells traffic controllers that there is a problem at a particular location

      The camera would be used to quickly book ambulances, fire trucks, etc, if th

    • CALTRANS has both cameras and sensor loops in the road, for most freeways in the SF and LA areas. When the sensor loops detect a discontinuity in traffic flow (usually a slow area with high vehicle density followed by a fast area with low vehicle density) they connect to the appropriate camera and take a look.

      You need both. Without sensor loops, there's too much camera data for anybody to watch, and without cameras, the control center can't see what the problem is. They can usually tell if an inciden

    • Cameras on Roads (Score:3, Informative)

      by lxt ( 724570 )
      The wonderul privacy country where I come from (the UK, AKA "CCTV Capital of the World") have multiple cameras on roads, mainly motorways and A-(main)Roads. They're mainly used to monitor traffic remotely, and reduce the need for police patrols. They don't directly reduce the traffic, but the information they provide is used on radio reports etc. A side effect of the proliferation of cameras has been the availability to the public - you can access nearly all of the cameras via the BBC websites - London alo
    • check out []

      they have realtime traffic for Los Angeles, and some if you pay for the service you can look at the traffic cameras. IIRC the cameras arent there to reduce traffic, they are there to monitor traffic, not alter it.
    • Someone's making a lot of bucks off equipment and staff we pay for...even assuming costs for processing the data.

      So? Assuming you are correct that some company is collecting, consolidating, and putting it in a single format so an end user can make use of it, this is a sigificant ammount of work. What's wrong with making money off of adding value to mostly raw resources? Lawyers make a lot of money off of reprocessing court judgements (which we pay for.) Shipping companies make a lot of money driving over

  • Maybe Yahoo! should fix their mapping software first. Whenever I use them to find out how to get from point A to point B, they always seem to give me directions with a longer route rather than the shortest one. Same thing with Mapquest.
    • For that reason I've switched to It seems to give more accurate results, for me at least. I don't know if they get their info from other sources - they must, since the results are different.
  • Yahoo's chat'n'maps applet draws on the win32 clients real-time web-surfing information from metropolitan users and private sectors, including embedded mouse sensors, usb cameras, sniffers, and packet helicopters. Yahoo declined to identify the exact sources of its dll's... and will prove to be a pain in the ass to remove even with a sophisticated spyware removal program. A user can stand over the burnt and charred remains of his CPU after he installs Yahoo's chat'n'maps to view details of impediments.
  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:42AM (#11128216) Homepage
    Traffic in this city is expanding.
    The commuters are getting militant.
    Highway shootings are on the rise.
    Either build more roads and rails or get a bulletproof limo.
  • Limited Coverage (Score:2, Informative)

    by spdt ( 828671 )
    Looking at the country map [], it seems that this only covers the larger metropolitan areas, so far.

    So don't get too excited if you happen to be from a place like Mianus, Connecticut [].
  • by RyanMuldoon ( 69574 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:44AM (#11128221) Homepage
    Instead of just showing road traffic and only offering driving directions, Yahoo could make using public transportation easier by offering directions using buses, subways, and commuter rails as an option. It would allow people to use public transportation without having to spend a lot of time figuring out all the different bus routes and schedules. Maybe it would reduce the traffic a bit.
    • The WMATA RideGuide [] lets you enter a starting point and a destination and offers you multiple routes using rail, buses and walking.
    • Indeed. Even in someplace like Boston where'd you think they might have their act together the subway website's facilities are lacking. There's a minimal trip planner [] but it sucks, and it's difficult if not impossible to find the addresses of stations so you can get a real map somewhere else.
    • by SendBot ( 29932 )
      The trip planner is a wonderful companion to Portland's (tri-metropolitan) transportation system of busses and light rail. [].
      There are also lots of bike paths that are neatly mapped somewhere, but I don't have a link.
    • We got such a thing in Istanbul which you can tell where to go and it displays all buses numbers etc.

      Interesting is, it can route you over sea sometimes, thanks to Bhosphorus :)

      Sadly, not available in english []
    • To my knoweledge such advanced integration of route guidance has not been attemted anywhere yet. We did scetch out such a system as coursework at the Helsinki University of Technology with my friends a few months ago though.

      Some cities in Germany do offer real time traffic information and park and ride information on the same web pages. It is also possible to book a park and ride place online.

      Gothenburg (Göteborg) in Sweden has experimented with using road signs which show the estimated driving

      • To my knoweledge such advanced integration of route guidance has not been attemted anywhere yet.

        Transport for London [] has quite a good integrated public transport/walking route planner. I'm not sure the route planner takes account of temporary travel disruptions though, only planned ones I think, but the current disruptions do scroll across the top of the screen, so if you are leaving immediately you can choose your route accordingly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:44AM (#11128226)
    Wonderfully readable URLs these people use: %2 C+PA+15217-3040&state=PA&uzip=15217&ds=n&name=&des c=&ed=T0qRZep_0Tr4Np7V.TbRpftsXKUsg.181R_6HssRgbH4 .yRRzOjaX0DeuaWWJS56AXckQ40QmpAModdDHtclDakA.aSV.z FfQG0V3OHy5Mk_pwdSUUJlFw--&zoomin=yes&BFKey=&mag=2 &resize=s&cat=trav&trf=1#mapcontent
    • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @06:18AM (#11129035) C+PA+15217-3040&state=PA&uzip=15217&ds=n&name=&des c=&ed=T0qRZep_0Tr4Np7V.TbRpftsXKUsg.181R_6HssRgbH4 .yRRzOjaX0DeuaWWJS56AXckQ40QmpAModdDHtclDakA.aSV.z FfQG0V3OHy5Mk_pwdSUUJlFw--&zoomin=yes&BFKey=&mag=2 &resize=s&cat=trav&trf=1#mapcontent

      Hey, that looks just like some of the posts on the old BBS's I used to frequent. It just needs ++ATH0 NO CARRIER at the end to make it complete.
  • Sim City is reality!
  • by sam5550 ( 841429 )
    I would imagine that this service is already available elsewhere. Googling "traffic conditions" with various city names usually turns up decent results.

    Many major metropolitan areas have government agencies devoted to controlling traffic; their websites might also be a good place to look.
  • by Fratz ( 630746 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @12:56AM (#11128269) [] also posts realtime traffic flow information, and they say they get their data from these sources [].
  • by Fratz ( 630746 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @01:04AM (#11128294)
    is to make use of historical traffic flow data to plan out a route based on start time. This is mostly only valuable for out-of-town travelers, but I'm sure everyone's had one of those experiences where they figured 3:00PM was early enough to be driving near, say, NYC, to avoid rush hour.

    I want my navigation system to adjust to unforeseen (realtime) traffic data and re-route me when appropriate, but the most important thing is for it to calculate an effective top speed for each potential road along the path, based on their historical flow data on various days of the week, holidays, and at various times of day. That way, it may realize that a 35MPH side-road that parallels the highway is actually faster than the 65MPH highway at 4:00PM on days when there's some sporting event going on. Prevents me from having to know this stuff :)

    Yes, I still want to actually drive the car, thank you very much :)

  • About time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @01:05AM (#11128298) Journal
    I have a hard time believing how slowly online maps are progressing.

    I don't care about traffic info, I can get that myself, elsewhere, but online maps don't even ALLOW you to request an alternate route. You have time and distance to choose from, and that's all.

    While I'm complaining, let's talk about the weather channel's web-site. They show you the weather over the major freeways in the country, but it is horrendous at predicting anything. It simply takes today's weather, and assumes everything will be less severe every day after... It's perfectly consistent in this behavior, even when their own forecast know, a week in advance, that the weather is actually going to get worse.

    And radio stations are no better. All the "highway stations" tell you a little bit about traffic if you tune-in at the right time, but never anything about bad weather. I was driving directly into the path of a 300mile blizzard, and I didn't have a clue. Even after there was a massive accident that completely blocked the freeway, none of the new media reported (or knew) about it until the next day.

    It seems like everything we have in-place is completely impotent. It's even that forecasts are bad, it's that all the information that is well-known is kept isolated, and only provided to the people that need to know about it the MOST, after everything is over.

    These are all VERY, VERY simple and easy things, yet nobody has bothered to do it. I think this is clearly an indication of what happens when media outlets are consolidated, reduced to doing nothing but imitating the competition, etc.
    • Yea me to I would love it if I can fix a map site so I can put the directions that I am conformable with and get good directions. Say Take I90 E to get to Boston while because of my location some Map Programs tell me to take RT 2. It is funny I have seen some Map Programs that have features for shortest distance, fastest travel and avoid highways. I would like features like lest amount of turns or use highways when possible. I would also love it if when it gets the traffic information that it would give m
      • I wonder if the reason they limit you to only certain path options (most/least freeways, etc.) is because it would be otherwise too expensive. I read one time that there are algorithms for picking the very best path from one place to another, but they are way to expensive. The online map servers use one that is almost as good most of the time, but much less expensive in processing. This is just what I heard, so take it with a grain of salt, however it sounds believable. Now... Google bought Keyhole and has
  • My route to work... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by XplosiveX ( 644740 )
    I have taken the source of the traffic images from my local transportation website and hosted them on a page so I don't have to click on each section of the map. Saves me a lot of time. I know many people do this. Feel free to use this webpage I have setup if you take the Don Valley Parkway, Gardiner, and QEW. Also the traffic flow map located at the top of that website is handy. []
  • by cytoman ( 792326 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @01:13AM (#11128322)
    Apparently, in Europe, there is something called TMC which is a standard for all of Europe. The GPS software there can make use of this to give you additional information on traffic. Below is an excerpt of a review on OnCourse Navigator from


    Traffic Message Channel is a pretty successful system in some European countries that transmits current traffic conditions via the RDS (radio data system) components of standard FM radio station broadcasting. Provided with a special GPS receiver (which basically includes a FM radio) users in Europe can let Navigon adjust it's routing decisions based on the incoming TMC messages. In the US the picture is very different. Every metropole has its own traffic messaging system, they are all incompatible, and most of them are not free services anyhow. As a result the OnCourse Navigator program has left out the TMC functionality. If you come over from Europe and use your MN|4 with the maps of OnCourse Navigator then keep in mind that TMC is of no use here.

  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Sunday December 19, 2004 @01:20AM (#11128348) Homepage
    Mapquest is worse than Yahoo, but they both are years out of date for the roads in my neighborhood and both are useless in giving directions to our house. A railroad that was taken out some ten years ago and converted to a bike path is still on Mapquest. Both maps show a road that has been closed and don't have a new road that replaces it hundreds of yards away.

    Last year I was scanning Popular Science and saw an ad for a Garmin GPS with a street map on the color display. Lo and behold, it was centered on my house, but it was screwed up as I related above. We wrote to them and told them that if they really used that map, people would be getting lost in my area if they used their unit since that road isn't there any more and, oh, about that railroad.. They replied that they'd be in contact with their map source (Looks like Mapquest) and would be sure to get it corrected... Over a year later, it's still inaccurate.

    I can understand that it's a huge task to keep things like that updated, but when you get information handed to you about inaccurace, you'd think it'd get fixed within a few months.

    "Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain
    • gps companies like gtk [] and teleatlas [] and many others all have giant workcenters for data pluggers -- they just sit there with lists of nodes to verify. they have to use multiple souces to update an error. it's no surprise with the amount of red tape involved with getting a correction done that the updates are delayed.
  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @01:44AM (#11128414) Homepage Journal
    Note: Some of these URLs are other cities too.

    TANN [] []
    Metrocommute []
    MSN Autos []
    CHP Traffic Incident Info. []
    Caltrans Realtime Freeway Speed Map (Java) []

    Any more I missed for Los Angeles area? :)
  • Can it suggest an alternate route if the shortest route has heavy traffic?
  • This is VERY cool (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <(ten.pbp) (ta) (maps)> on Sunday December 19, 2004 @02:02AM (#11128478)
    I noticed this a few days ago and it's been GREAT so far.

    Uh, it doesn't suggest alternate routes, though. So I see "Hmm, Hwy 880 is, as usual, fucked." but can find no way around it.

    On the bright side, the "Show local Starbucks" works.. I can sit around and wait out the traffic. :)
  • by Fancia ( 710007 ) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @02:09AM (#11128504)
    This is nice, but the good people over at Something Awful [] beat them to it four years ago!
  • This may have been accelerated by the launch of Google's partner [].
  • Other places? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jafar00 ( 673457 )
    Apparently only the US and Canada exist at the moment. I wonder if they will expand to the rest of the world?
  • I'm skeptical (Score:2, Informative)

    by SethJohnson ( 112166 )

    I just checked Sixth street [] in Downtown Austin, TX at 1:30 am. The map indicates 'minor traffic'. Funny thing, that street is closed with barricades at this time of night on a weekend.

  • In Atlanta Georgia, we have already had this for a while. it comes complete with text messaging to your cell/pda about accidents, etc. You can even see the image from any traffic camera. They've done a good job. The site is often slow but as for spending tax dollars in a way that helps the community, this is leaps and bounds ahead of other metro areas.
  • ha, cooool!

    people can now go out, armed with laptops sitting at well-known unsecured WiFi points, coordinating traffic blocking exercises at choke points in order to deliberately cause gridlock - AND they can verify within minutes whether they've done it correctly.


  • This won't last long. The government will step in and declare this confidential info. No one wants terrorists to have this info too!

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant