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Google Maps shows where the jams are
Thursday, March 29, 2012 9:00 PM

Google Maps shows where the jams are

KUALA LUMPUR: Google Malaysia today introduced three major enhancements to Google Maps that allow Malaysian commuters to better plan their journeys and look up traffic jam information.

Two new layers — Traffic and Transit — have been added and a Bahasa Malaysia interface has been introduced. All of these are available on the desktop and mobile versions of Google Maps.

Traffic, probably the most useful of the lot for harassed motorists, provides data on near real time road congestion right on the map.
GoogleMalaysia_March29-(18)2.jpg
Correlating the traffic flow in Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, with what is shown on Google Maps's Traffic service. The map showed the road to be green, and it was accurately portrayed by the smooth traffic outside the window.


By turning on the Traffic layer on Maps, users can quickly see whether roads are congested or flowing freely based on colour coding — red for choc-a-bloc, yellow for slow moving, and green for smooth flowing. Drivers who are familiar with the roads can also use the information to plan alternative routes to their destination.

Next, Transit provides information on travel via the Malaysian public transportation system on Google Maps. Now, in areas with available transit data, whenever a user selects directions, say, from A-to-B, there is a third new option in addition to the familiar walking and driving directions.

Maps users can view the step-by-step public transportation information which includes bus, LRT, monorail and Komuter travel options. Users can also see where bus stops and train stations are located.

Transit provides a more sustainable option for Malaysians looking to reduce traffic congestion and get around town by using public transportation. Users can also plan ahead by setting their departure time to make sure they get back at a specific time.

Finally, Google Maps is now available in Bahasa Malaysia, giving Malay native speakers better accessibility and the option of interfacing and navigating with Google Maps using the language they are most comfortable with.

With 60 per cent of Malaysians using Bahasa Malaysia as their primary language and with over 90 per cent proficiency in the language nationwide, this localisation initiative should make it easier for Malaysians to get the most from Maps.

GoogleMalaysia_March29-(6)3.jpg
Sivanandan showing Google Maps and its latest services are also available on the smartphone apart from desktops and laptops.
Explaining the rationale for the three enhancements, Google Malaysia country manager Sajith Sivanandan said Malaysians were using Google Maps in "very large numbers", and the logical step forward was to make the experience more relevant and useful.

“Malaysians commute a lot, and these enhancements add a new level of usability to Google Maps for Malaysians, making it easier to look up information, move around the country, and get from point A to B quickly and with minimum hassle and fuss,” he said.

Traffic and Transit for Maps data comes from a variety of sources, including government departments of transportation, private data providers, and users of Google Maps for mobile who contribute anonymous speed information through Google’s traffic crowdsourcing feature.

The enhancements were developed by Google R&D centres around the world, said Sivanandan, adding that maps were regularly updated to keep pace with changing road networks.

The Traffic and Transit services are currently available only for the Klang Valley and Google Malaysia expects to deploy them to urban centres outside the valley eventually.

Google Maps was launched in 2009 and has been providing users localised geographic information – online maps, topographical information, satellite imagery, driving directions, addresses and businesses listings – on their desktop, tablets and mobile phones.

Go to maps.google.com.my to start using the free service.

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