DIYtraffic - realtime alerts on traffic problems, easily configurable for any city or town.
Traffic updates to mobile phones have existed for quite a while now in various places and in various forms. What hasn't been offered though is one single application that can be configured to work anywhere, in any city or town, with very little effort. Such an application would have the effect of allowing every city and town to easily run its own traffic alert system for people there. Further, it would create a unified platform for all communities to use, build on together, and improve together, leading over time to an ever-stronger system for getting traffic information to residents.
DIYtraffic is that application.
DIYtraffic is an easy-to-configure application that alerts you to traffic problems in a local area as they occur. The app, which is set up to pull from Yahoo's traffic API and send to Twitter (but can be configured to pull/push from/to any service), will send SMS messages to your phone about traffic jams from accidents, street closures, etc, for the city you configure it for.
You can also query the system for updates on a specific street or highway in your area and get info on just that route.
Users of DIYtraffic can also contribute their own traffic updates to the system, to augment the data coming from official feeds.
Armed with all of this knowledge, people in your area can use DIYtraffic to make on-the-fly decisions to avoid traffic snarls and problem areas during their commute. Which equals better commute for them, and less snarl for everyone, wherever they live.
To use DIYtraffic:
1. search for a Twitter feed associated with your city or town in the list of feeds on the DIYcity wiki
2. find your feed, click on the link, log in to Twitter and follow that feed
2.1 (no feed for your city? see "Setting Up DIYtraffic for Your Area" below)
3. to receive traffic alerts as SMS to your phone, click on "Device updates" at the top of the feed and set updates to "on".
4. with "Device updates" set to "off", you will receive traffic updates just to your Twitter home page.
5. sending a DM to your DIYtraffic feed with the name of a street or highway in your area will return a DM with traffic updates for that particular street. This allows you to query the system for a specific route and get a response to your phone. (In this version, querying works best when you leave off words like "street," or "st." e.g. use "wacker" not "wacker dr.")
6. Send an @ reply to the feed you follow to broadcast information of your own on traffic problems in your area.
DIYtraffic is designed to be easily configured to work for any city or town in the U.S. (it will work outside the U.S. too, if you have a feed of traffic updates). Our aim is not to provide traffic updates to any one particular community, but to provide a single tool that all communities, everywhere, can use to improve the flow of traffic information within those communities.
WIth that in mind, we have set up DIYtraffic in a few cities as demos (San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland), and invite you to set it up in your own community if you do not live in one of those areas.
Read how to set up DIYtraffic for your own community on the
Instructions for Installation.
DIYtraffic is a beta release. Do you want to help improve it? Sign up for DIYcity and comment on this thread on what a 1.0 release should look like.
The mission of DIYcity is to offer free, open source tools that communities all over the world can use to make their local areas better. The idea is to build a generalized toolset that can be applied roughly to any local community, then let individual communities tweak those tools as necessary to suit their needs. Those communities then commit their changes back to the DIYcity code repository so that other communities can make use of those modifications as well.
In this way, DIYcity generates a toolset for communities everywhere, complete with specific modules to make the tools work better in varying local circumstances.
DIYtraffic is the first application to be built by this community and with this model in mind, a proof of concept for DIYcity. There will be more projects like this one launching in the future - bigger, more complex, more useful. If you like the idea, please get involved by joining DIYcity and participating.
The beta version of this app was built by Daniel Greenblatt, Shanks Krishnan and John Geraci, with input from many people who contributed to the DIYcity discussion about creating a traffic app on Twitter, particularly Whitneymcn, mariae mancipium, peterbilton and others.