Traffic guidance into cell phones and BlackBerrys
July 5th, 2007

This holiday weekend thousands of drivers will get traffic updates by text and voice on their handheld devices. The New York Times reports:

. . . during the next few days, as Americans extend their Fourth of July celebrations, tens of thousands of motorists around the country will receive up-to-the minute accident alerts and guidance on end runs around bottlenecks — without ever having to turn on a car radio.

In the latest incarnation of traffic reporting, information gleaned from strategically placed cameras, road-top sensors, electronic tollbooths and eyewitnesses is edited in Mission Control-style command rooms and sent using personalized text or voice messages to subscribers’ cellphones or BlackBerrys, often at no charge.

These advances are part of an effort by private traffic services to bring some science and precision to what, at least until the last few years, was an art form typically practiced by a reporter in a helicopter or an announcer glued to a terminal in a windowless cubicle. While radio stations continue to send traffic copters into the air — including at least three serving New York City alone — their ‘eye in the sky’ observations are now only one of the streams of data at travelers’ disposal.

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