Snapshot: Traffic jams can be a pain in the neck, here is how to avoid them by using modern navigation
Long queues of cars on city roads is a common sight on those cool summer mornings and sultry evenings. The 9 to 5 slaves run to their hives at dawn and to their wives at dusk in a hurry. They just have to leave everyone behind. This hurry is what leads to bottlenecks and traffic jams that may cost you a couple of hours of your life. This is the time that one spends getting aquainted with the music system installed in their car; music or impatience being the only refuge that one sees.
Republic Day Traffic Advisory for Delhi
We hate traffic, traffic hates us. The truth is however, that we make traffic. More and more cars that keep moving in, just add to the traffic, and as we are nothing but a part of the problem. Now nearly all of us own smartphones today. These marvels of engineering are such good pieces of technology that they also double as Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. A majority of people who use smartphones, use Google Android phones and these devices are communicating with the Google servers all
the time. When you turn on the navigation, the estimated time switches between shades of green, orange and red, depending upon the amount of trafic that you will encounter on the way to the set destination. Before I knew what that meant, I used to often wonder, and then I decided to read the documentation on Google Maps and found out the entire process of how it works, and here is how. The GPS continiously keeps updating your position with the server and records your speed in realtime.
This data is aggregated and as a result, Google tells you which road has traffic, which is moderately crowded and where you have light or no traffic. Google Maps has another built-in feature which takes into consideration the roads with the lightest traffic, and is the shortest of all the routes available. This features makes sure that navigation routes you through the road with the least amount of traffic. These routes are calculated in realtime and are scarily accurate. A few days back, my colleague and I were going back home late-ish at night and were stuck in the Delhi traffic. Just to get a fair idea of how long we might get stuck, we turned on the 'Traffic' layer on one of our phones. To our surprise, the traffic jam ended exactly where the navigation system indicated. This wasn't just chance. This happened nearly every time that we checked when we were caught in traffic.
Most of the cars that come with in-built navigation systems, do the same thing. They have an option between getting you to your destination from the shortest route or through the fastest route. With cities that have traffic problems and multiple ways of getting to a place, they guide you through the route that have the least amount of traffic. These maps are based on data computed from human movement and it senses the movement patterns of people, figures out what the user wants and gives the most appropriate result. They are updated with data every little while and can even sense if roads switch directions at a particular time. e.g. Kolkata has a system of controlling traffic where in the direction of one way roads switches at a particular time of the day. GPS systems by manufacturers such as TomTom and MapMyIndia, and of course our personal favorite Google Maps have figured the traffic patterns, where the traffic is at the maximum and routes you accordingly.
Now that we know how this works and how it is helpful, a question that popped up in the heads of our not so technology savvy readers is, 'How easy is this to use?' To answer your question, I will explain how we use these maps. Let's say we are using Google Maps, which is the most commonly used navigation system. Once you launch the app on your phone, a map will load and you will be placed as a blue dot (if you are stationary), or a blue arrow (if you are moving) which points in the direction in which you are moving. The left edge of the screen is where the extra options are hidden. You can swipe it right to get the extra options, and touch 'Traffic' to see what the traffic looks around where you are, or any place that you wish to see. To move, you simply touch and drag on the screen and that moves the view around. The bar on top is the search bar, which you can touch to enter your destination. This shows you the various routes available and shows the amount of time it would take to reach.
The latest version of Google Maps has a feature where when you zoom in enough, it shows you a three dimentional model of the city. You can see transparent models of the buildings around. This is aimed at helping you navigate better, and of course combined with the traffic stats, you can figure out whether to take or not to take a particular route to your destination.
Besides GPS, phones now also come equipped with Globalnaya navigatsionnaya sputnikovaya sistema or Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) which is a navigation system run by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. It is an alternative to GPS and has equal precision globally. It can be detected by the reciving device in even the most difficult conditions, or where it might be difficult for GPS to get a fix.
There is a huge variety of navigation systems adn services available in India that provide realtime updates to traffic and can be very handy when you have to rush for a party or to get to a loved one right away. Even if you know the city roads and shortcuts like the back of your hand, traffic can bring a nasty twist to how your day has been going. You can beat the traffic with such navigation systems and reach your destination on time.