It’s been some time coming, and I had even begun to wonder if this one wasn’t vapourware. But I’m glad to announce that Traffikator, a social Traffic app that aims to help you make sense of Lagos traffic has finally escaped development limbo and is now in Alpha. Initial testers are currently being recruited.
I find this bit of news particularly exciting because the traffic app thingy was (and still is) a pet idea of mine — that is before these wise guys decided to “steal” my idea (I kid). Considering how pathetic my attempt at it was, I’m glad that real developers, people who can, have finally decided to do something about it.
If you’ve been following my articles on TechLoy (which I still contribute to by the way), you’ll remember the one where I talked about the how Lagos could use an intelligent traffic monitoring solution. While the popular Twitter handle, Gidi Traffic, might appear to pass for that and indeed could have decided to go about his activities in a more efficient manner that leverages current social, web and mobile technology, it would seem that our man is far more interested in becoming Nigeria’s Siri.
That might work for him and his adoring fans, but it certainly doesn’t for me. Traffic monitoring is only useful when it is relevant, personalised and timely (in real-time). And these days, Gidi Traffic is hardly any of that. His feed has steadily deteriorated into a spaghetti-like mish-mash of inane chatter. You’re more likely to find tips on transcendental meditation than find actual traffic information. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but all the non-traffic static on that channel has since become too much for me to endure.
That’s why I find my interest piqued by Traffikator. Its creators, Chaos Theory Creative, have comically described it as a hi-tech coping mechanism for (Lagos) road rage, but in plain english, it is simply an app that uses social, web and mobile technologies to figure out where traffic is light or heavy, and then deliver that information to you via your mobile phone.
Using the GPS tracker in your smartphone, Traffikator determines traffic density by calculating the relative speed of two or more Traffikator users on the same street. This technique will be familiar to you if you’ve heard of an app called Waze. The more people use and download the app, the better it gets at telling traffic. And further, it refines the data it collects by scraping and cross-referencing traffic data already available via Twitter and other social media channels.
Cool huh? We’ll have to see if it works first. The good news is that Chaos Theory has finally brought Traffikator up to the point where it can go live, and they are currently looking for Alpha testers to give them preliminary feedback. If you’d like to get on that list, all you have to do is visit the app’s website and leave your email address. But you have to hurry because the list is getting long, and there are limited testing slots available.
Because of their dawdling — they promised the Alpha would be available in August, and it wasn’t till now — they can no longer claim to be Nigeria’s first traffic app, seeing as another Lagos Traffic monitoring app called RoadPeer (which doesn’t look bad itself) has rolled out ahead of them. And even that one might have to concede that title to the now apparently comatose Traffic.com.ng. But all of that is not important. The important thing is that we’re finally beginning to see some action along the lines of making sense out of the nonsense that Lagos traffic is.
You know, if I got the idea that any of them might be amenable to it, I might have suggested a mutually beneficial collabo between Traffikator and GidiTraffic. The combination of Traffikator’s forward looking technologies with the human curation and semantic analysis as well as an already engaged and enthusiastic community that Gidi Traffic has created could prove to be a match made in…well, Lagos.
There are some immediately obvious benefits to such a relationship. For Traffikator, it would be instant audience liquidity, and a ready dataset to which they can apply their algorithms, learn, optimise and scale. While for Gidi Traffic and his community, the benefits would manifest in an infinitely improved and much more useful traffic monitoring product.
But don’t mind me, that’s me thinking aloud again, I tend to do that. And mind you, I don’t expect that Traffikator, et al, to really solve Lagos’ traffic congestion problems. What I’m hoping is that they’ll provide commuters, motorists and pedestrians alike, with intelligent data that helps them make smarter decisions about when and when to move. Personally, I know that sort of data would certainly go a long way to help me maximise the days when I have to be on the road. Life in Lagos is busy enough without the added headache of getting unnecessarily stuck in traffic.
Don’t forget, to get on the Alpha testing list, visit Traffikator.com.