Although Dave is the king of GPS around here, I had my own Eureka moment after my recent smartphone upgrade. While traveling along I-95 in Maryland a few weeks ago, it suddenly occurred to me to use my new Android phone to check on traffic conditions. After a quick look through the app store, I installed the Inrix app and enjoyed instant access to traffic alerts throughout the region. The traffic widget uses GPS to find your current location, and provides an interactive map with roads labeled in green, orange, and red depending on traffic delays.
After my gratifying mobile experience with Inrix, I was delighted to run into the company again a short while later, this time in person at CES. Naturally the folks there had something new to show off, and I was a willing audience to their booth demo. As of January 6th, there is now an Inrix Traffic! Pro app available for the iPhone. Instead of just color-coded maps, the premium version of the application also provides estimated ETAs depending on your location and destination, predictive traffic information, the ability to record your favorite routes for traffic comparisons, and access to real-time traffic cameras. It’s $10 for a year or $25 for a lifetime subscription. It’s not available for the Android platform yet, but likely will be in the future
But wait, there’s more. Inrix has been using its traffic data to produce national traffic reports, and third-party groups are now doing the same. News site The Daily Beast just used Inrix data to determine the worst commutes in America. (Top three are on freeways in L.A., Honolulu, and the DC metro area) Although the data analysis in this case is relatively simple, the amount of raw data that Inrix is collecting means that future data analysis projects could be significantly more ambitious. Imagine using Inrix data for city planning, or to create alternative traffic management systems. (A way to avoid congestion pricing?) Inrix is already spreading to smartphones, to smart cars, and through state transportation contracts. The company relies on its own “Smart Dust Network” with information from road sensors, commercial vehicles, toll tags, weather forecasts, events and school schedules. Smart Dust? Maybe the Internet of Things has officially arrived.