Ever wondered how Google Maps is able to accurately predict traffic conditions every time you are on the road? Well, it might creep you out but Google does this by tracking you, and millions of those who rely on its popular mapping service to help build a better traffic infrastructure. Whether you hail an Uber or want to locate a particular shop in a new city, Google Maps in most cases is capable of suggesting you not only the exact route, but also the alternative and faster route that could help you reach your destination in time.
Google Maps has over a billion users worldwide and other than satellite imagery, offers street views, panoramas, real-time traffic conditions and route planning even for travelling on foot. Given such a wide user base, there is big data being churned in the background. This data is not only coming from users who are travelling in real-time but is also crowd-sourced from Waze and local transportation authorities. But how does it work?
Every time you use Google Maps on your iOS or Android device, you have to first enable location access to the app. Once you do that the app will send location data back to its servers. So when your location is on a road, the app is able to analyze in real-time whether you are moving or stuck in traffic. By pooling this data from millions of users around the clock, including those travelling on the same route as yours, the app can even calculate how many numbers of cars at their on the road including how fast they are moving to tell you exactly where and what time can you expect heavy traffic.
Google also uses historical data of traffic conditions on a given road so as to predict the time of peak traffic conditions, a Business Insider report notes. ALSO READ: Uber Movement launched to give city planners a sneak peek into traffic data
So the more number of people using the app, the more accurate the data would be. But if the idea about your location being tracked intimidates you, you can always switch off location services on your device to prevent Google from accessing your location. However, this would defeat the purpose of building an accurate mapping service that is capable of telling you real-time traffic data. It is to be further noted that all the data is sent to Google servers anonymously, which means even if they have access to your location, the information is secure.
Recently, Uber opened up its traffic data website to help researchers as well as users to help build a better road infrastructure in 450 cities around the globe the service operates in. ALSO READ: Google Maps now lets you locate public toilets around you