How Google maps, Waze, Petal maps know there is traffic ahead

Image created by Marcus Moloko using AI.

Ever wondered how Google, Waze, and other navigation apps know when there is traffic ahead, the truth may scare a few but the few reasons below may enlighten many on how all these apps seem to forecast so accurately.

The idea that you’re being tracked is an idea my grandmother stuck to and is relentless in its potential reality. While there may be truth to what she argues, we must be responsible with the information we provide to our readers, while carefully balancing between fact and responsibility.

Let’s get into it.

Navigation apps do collect data on the speed and location of users. While this information may be anonymized, it is a major source of real time traffic information. It all boils down to the amount of smartphones grouped together in a particular intersection. The more signals emitted, the more apps conclude congestion as a result.

By analyzing the speed of multiple smartphones on a particular road, the app can forecast delays as a result of traffic density. These apps then alert the user and provide possible options.

This may not be the only way smartphones know where you are.

Some navigation organizations have partnerships with ride-sharing services and GPS data from these vehicles continuously transmits speed information and provides a constant stream of real-time traffic updates on specific roads.

The third pillar

Most navigation apps are integrated with data feeds from Traffic Management Centers operated by government transportation agencies.  These allow apps to gain access to a variety of tools which include traffic cameras, road sensors, and incident reports, and share this information.


AI has come to the fore and is one application that will be better at understanding patterns. By analyzing past traffic data for a specific time and day, apps -with aid from AI – can predict potential congestion and alert users proactively.

Some navigation apps like Waz allow users to report incidents on the road. This information helps warn other motorists about potential slowdowns and possible speed cameras.

When you combine all these methods, navigation software provides users with a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of traffic conditions.

Also read: Virtual and Augmented Reality: The New Reality of Betting



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