Google Maps as traffic cop in the sky?

TrafficI am a very heavy user of Google Maps, even when I know where I’m going. It’s a pretty good* predictor of current travel time and traffic patterns.

A few times lately, I’ve also had to use it to circumvent traffic snarls (one time enjoying rural New Jersey near Pennsylvania).

Then, one day, during a storm, I noticed there was a car in front of me that seemed to be also circumventing the traffic with me. Could it be, I thought, the driver was also using Google Maps, and we both got the same route to follow?

With Google as the oracle, if someone heads off the highway with me, it’s likely that we both will follow the same route via Google Maps.

But what happens when all of us have that info and all of us try to circumvent traffic in the same way. You’ll have streams of cars going off in the same direction.

And what if Google actually was even more clever and only sent a few of us of in one direction, a few in the other, and some elsewhere so that Google actually managed traffic like a traffic cop in the sky?

That’d be weird.


*One note on the travel time predictor – it’s only for NOW. I do long 5 hours trips and wished Google could estimate travel for the trip taking into account when I’ll be where and how the usual traffic pattern would be. Do you know what I mean? I’m sure they have the data and the computational power to do this. For instance: imagine picking a route and getting travel time recommendations based on the time you start out.