There’s nothing like being stuck in traffic to make you realize how dependent we have become on real-time road events data in a relatively short time. Is there an accident up ahead, or construction? How long will the wait be? Pulling over to access data on our smart phones, or having a passenger do a search, has quickly become a routine response to traffic delays, and the demand is growing.
Since the publication of the DriveBC real-time data feed in Open511 format in September 2015, commuters, commercial drivers and travelers have increasingly recognized the practical convenience of having this information at their fingertips, and developers are taking note. Last month, Victoria-based mobile app developer AirSenze Solutions, also known as FreshWorks Studio, released its free BCHighways app, becoming the first company to launch an app using the DriveBC Open511 Application Programming interface (API) available for commercial use under the Open Government License (OGL)– British Columbia.
In addition to real-time road events data, including planned construction, accidents and extreme weather conditions, the BCHighways app integrates DriveBC’s Twitter feed, traffic camera images and border crossing wait times, and is available for Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV and Apple Watch. AirSenze CEO and co-founder Samarth Mod says there are currently 600 downloads of the app and feedback is good: “The reviews and ratings suggests that truckers and drivers are finding this app easy to use and intuitive.”
The BCHighways app is currently rated 4+ in the App Store and 4.3 on Google Play. One reviewer says: “Going to be recommending this to my fellow truckers for sure!” Another reviewer adds: “I love the quick access to webcams. Super easy to use and great for commuters.”
Examples of real-time road data improving lives are plentiful. Provincial government employee Garrett Cormack has been making the commute over the Malahat on Highway 1 from his home in Mill Bay, B.C. to his Victoria office for a decade. He used to rely solely on local radio for updates, but exact locations and wait times weren’t always available. Now, he accesses DriveBC data before leaving work when he suspects weather, construction or an accident may impact his route. “There have been times I’ve changed my schedule to work longer if there’s an accident, and there have been times I’ve left work earlier,” he said.
Road delays are an unavoidable reality, but the growing demand for real-time road data tells us drivers are quickly adopting this technology to avoid problems along their route. DriveBC Open511 has come a long way in a short time, and it will be exciting to see what lies on the road ahead.
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