If you have been using Google Maps for your driving directions, then you have probably noticed the traffic reporting seems very accurate and detailed in the latest version. In fact it’s even more accurate than some of the connected proprietary in-car navigation systems. This is not good guess work or clever outsourcing of traffic data feeds.

Google gets this information for free and then gives it back for free, from you and me. What do you mean you don’t remember giving any traffic reports?

Every Android device that is connected to a data network and has allowed Google to collect data anonymously sends out small data packets giving positioning information. Google tracks every single one and selects the data from those located on a road, that data is fed into the traffic data farm, analysed and compared with each nearby device. With enough devices in any one location an accurate and live picture of traffic at a very detailed level is produced. If you have used an Android device as an in-car Sat Nav you will have seen just how accurate it can be, red lines turn green and suddenly the gap between you and the car in front opens up and you’re moving again!

This is a great example of pre-existing data being analysed and collated and then fed back out for real-time use. Big data generating big results. Google is so confident of the system and it’s even been said the data is even more accurate than the traffic data used by the emergency services.

Some may complain about the use of their location data, but these are the kind of things are possible by allowing the use of anonymous data. Surely this use is beneficial, we just have to trust Google to abide by their own rule about being evil!

Imagine if you willingly provided the means of travel, bus, bike, train, the data you are then provided may include the quickest bike route at any time, which bus to get on next to get a seat. Going further if you announced you have just parked you car, Google could collate this data and show best streets to get a parking spot!

Big data can be used to do far more than identify trends so long as those collecting the data can be trusted.

Keep on truckin’!