Taking traffic mapping to a whole new level: Microsoft releases Clearflow

Loads of people use their GPS systems to plan car journeys. But imagine being able to get a computer to vary its suggested route as traffic conditions change – even if that means driving off on some of the thousands of side-streets scattered through every city.

Wouldn’t that mean you’d have to know what the traffic conditions are like on every single side street in every city you want traffic information for? Well that’s what Microsoft has done, and they have now released their revolutionary new traffic-jam avoidance system, ‘Clearflow’ onto their web mapping platform for everyone to use.

image Wait a minute… what’s so great about this new technology – we’ve been able to get traffic information from Google Maps or traffic.com for years now, so what’s the difference? Basically, Google Maps and similar websites only monitor the traffic on major roads – after all, it would be impossible to keep track of the traffic on every single side-street 24 hours a day.

What Microsoft did was to analyze what happens to traffic on side streets as levels of traffic on main roads varies. This involved using GPS systems to record a massive 125,000 miles of car journeys, and then computing all this data to work out which side-streets are faster.

The result is that Clearflow really can calculate the fastest route for you, even if it involves a long and convoluted journey through dozens of smaller roads.

So next time you’re driving in the Big Apple in rush hour, you might just want to check out the new system at maps.live.com.

IMPORTANT: Users in the UK cannot use the URL given above – for some unknown reason it redirects to much-inferior Multimap.com. Use this URL instead: http://maps.live.com/?mkt=en-us

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2 Responses

  1. I have to say I have reservations about a computer system which tells you where to go… mind you, I must admit I’ve never tried a gps car system, but I have friends who were travelling in a rented car in California, and they thought it was wonderful.

    I suppose it would be a good system if you were a driver for a shipping company, and travelled in a lot of cities during rush hour. But if you’re already familiar with a city, you’d know the fastest alternative routes anyway.

    I checked out Toronto on the link, and it did give route density and information on roadwork and accidents on the major roads. I’ll check it out again when I know traffic is at a standstill to see how accurate it is!

  2. I can see what you’re saying about already knowing the alternative routes if you live in a city, but this kind of technology would still be good for non-residents. I think it’s all building up to the day when your car GPS tells you exactly what to do, taking into account weather, traffic and loads more.

    By the way, Live Maps has loads of other great features that Google Maps doesn’t – I love the Bird’s Eye views, which are basically 45-degree views that give you more detail than standard aerial views. They don’t have it for Toronto yet, but loads of American and British cities have it – check out NYC for example.

    Thanks for commenting Gillian! 🙂

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