Friday, May 24, 2013

Dynamic real-time maps

I-5 bridge over Skagit river collapsed last night.  I read about it today morning.

Since lot of people will be driving over to Vancouver from Seattle for the long weekend, I wanted to check out the damage and how it is going to affect the travel.  I go to Google maps and voila, Google has already done the work for us.  Check out the image below to see how Google has already updated the map so that the break in the freeway is shown.  It would have been cooler if they indicated the breakage of the bridge, rather than a missing segment on the map.   

Now, look at Bing maps and see what it says.  As per Bing, you can still drive over the (broken) bridge, and nothing is wrong!

Now, I went back to Google maps and asked for directions from Seattle, Wa to Vancouver, BC, expecting to see something cool.  Here is what it returned:

Hah.  Google messed up.  So, now I am wondering if the I-5 breakage (shown in Google maps) is a bug in Google maps or whether it was updated based on today's news.  If the map WAS updated based on the news, kudos to Google.  But, they need to take it one step further and feed this information to the routing engine too.  Why stop half way?

Wouldn't it be interesting to create dynamic maps that are hooked into the news and update based on the current conditions, like breakage, bridge/road closures, etc?  There are lots of avenues to get this information and feed it into the maps.

I am looking forward to such innovation.  We do live in interesting times.