Real-time traffic apps to help drivers navigate commute after viaduct closes

Real-time traffic apps to help drivers navigate commute after Viaduct shutdown (KOMO News)

It’s already happening -- KOMO News spotted several ride share drivers trying to turn into the southbound entrance of the north portal into the new SR 99 Tunnel.

They told KOMO their company’s navigation app told them to turn there. Some made it into the tunnel, driving into the entrance intended to be used only by construction workers.

It’s an example of how much we now rely on navigation apps to get from point A to point B. Many commuters will be relying on these apps to get around after the Viaduct shuts down.

But not all apps are created equal.

The City of Seattle and Washington state provide a data feed free of charge to the developers of some apps. The data is collected from sensors embedded in the roadways that measure speed and traffic volume.

But it’s the human element that Waze, owned by Google and Kirkland-based Inrix, believe is their difference maker.

“Waze data is based on users actually on the road,” said Mona Weng of Waze. “Roads are changing, patterns are changing, so Waze is always going to be a living reflection of that and we are relying on our map editors to really do that who live in these markets.”

Both Waze and Inrix augment their service with GPS location data supplied by their users on the road.

“We collect down to the second increments as to where they are on the roadway, providing real-time traffic data,” said Trevor Reed, an analyst with Inrix.

Inrix may not be as well-known as Waze, Google Maps or Apple Maps, but it offers a free app for drivers and also provides in-car navigation information for Ford, Toyota, BMW and Audi.

“Our human analysis places these points where there are blockages or incidences will enable our platform to adapt and give a preferred route,” said Reed.

Waze has partnered with KOMO and its map editors to keep track of the challenges the viaduct closure will bring.

“There’s almost 40,000 who are part of the KOMO commuters team,” said Weng. “This is KOMO’s team on the Waze app and these are Seattle commuters who share incidents on the road.”

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