The Best Time To Plan Your Thanksgiving Travel, According To Google Maps Data

Don’t plan on driving the day before Thanksgiving.


It’s really interesting to be reading this Infographic in an Australian business people, in New Zealand given that neither country celebrates Thanksgiving.

Nevertheless we do all spend a lot of time trying to work out when the best times are to travel on long weekends and that’s an area I’ve been putting a lot of effort into lately.

The last thing you want to be doing on a long weekend is spending half of it stuck in traffic. You also don’t want to be cutting it short, after all that’s not the point of a long weekend.

Interesting to see a significant reduction in people driving last year vs the year before. There could of course be a lot of reasons for this and looking at what I’ve seen comparing our last long weekend in New Zealand it doesn’t appear as thought we were traveling less this year vs last year. I’m currently working through stats to try and identify what did happen through our key corridors, which is a combination of many factors. Hopefully we will be able to use this information to help people make their travel decisions on Boxing Day and 2 January.

One of the most important things is that around 40% of people don’t check travel information before they get into their cars. Why would you not want to know what traffic is like before you go?

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Your Mobile Knows What Floor You Are On and Can Tell Others

New devices can pinpoint what floor you’re on, aiding rescue crews but setting off privacy groups’ alarms.


There are now about 100 million smartphones that feature barometric sensors. This is very interesting technology and while the primary purpose for barometers was to monitor changes in the weather, this opens up some very interesting new capability.

One of the exciting opportunities this opens up is being able to locate people, not only by their GPS coordinates, but also what their altitude is and therefore what floor they are on. Imagine for example that someone has dialed 911 and needs urgent medical assistance, but is disoriented. The ability to track that call and identify that a person is on the 15th floor of a commercial building could be a life saver.

Retailers are constantly seeking that magical solution to identify where people are in a shopping precinct or mall. This again can help in pinpointing the location of shoppers without requiring the use if Bluetooth or other LBS technologies.

Of course this raises security concerns, especially if you don’t have the ability to turn that information off. When it comes to law enforcement, safety, security and providing evidence of a crime that has or may be about to be committed, I’m fine with this concept and particularly situations where innocent people can use location based services to prove they were not at the scene of a crime.

It’s interesting to me that we have long seen these sorts of technologies on TV shows, where high tech law enforcement agencies use it to find terrorists and others and tracking people by their mobiles is an every day thing. Now we’re talking reality and its getting interesting.

So locating people with special needs has always been an interest of mine. Elderly people, people with disabilities like being blind, dementia, health conditions like diabetes that can cause people to become disoriented or lose consciousness. I have long looked for viable devices and been involved in R&D with a number of them, but the ubiquitous mobile has the potential to change all that.

What other things could you do with this technology? How about fitness training? The barometer can help apps know when you are climbing stairs and can count how many you climbed. It can be used to monitor inclinometer for people doing training for sport, because publicly available web maps mostly don’t provide this. functionality. I’m sure cycling, running and other fitness apps soon will. The iPhone 6 comes with a health app that counts stairs for you, so you may already be using this functionality in your new mobile.

I recently had the pleasure of flying in a Hoverwing, a hybrid combination of plane and hovercraft. The pilot used his iPhone to get information about where we went and emailed me a picture of the track. Glider pilots can now use this technology which is much cheaper and lighter than conventional technology. For a glider pilot of course the lighter the craft the more lift,

For those of you who have scoffed in the past about face and voice recognition, tracking people and using big data analysis to track people and interpret their behavior, location and where they are likely to go next as something that will remain on SciFi movies, it’s time to face facts. We live in a new world. I’m just glad that I live in a democratic country where it is unlikely that this technology will be abused by those in authority.

Of course the technology can be abused very easily by people with less benevolent intentions and this is where standards to protect our personal safety and privacy need to be developed, and quickly, because it can be very easily be abused to commit crimes against people. Whilst law enforcement is getting smarter, there are levels of  the criminal element that are doing likewise. There are of course loads of less intelligent criminals and as you will read in many of my blogs, particularly and this blog people are being caught daily having stolen mobiles, cars, handbags, even hay bales! Something I love to read about these busts is that they also tend to find lots of other stolen property and other illegal items when they catch these people.

As long as the laws are in place to protect the innocent and our inherent right to privacy, inasmuch as that exists any more, I think these are very positive and exciting developments. How about you?

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Posted in Fitness tracker, GPS, GPS Tracking, health, track crime, Tracking Apps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adobe Personalizes Mobile Location Features To Drive Real-Time Engagement – MediaPost Communications

Adobe on Tuesday will launch several location marketing services aimed at personalizing the mobile experience for consumers.


The interesting thing to me out of this is that the location based alerts come up on the phone screen even when it is locked, so you can have hands free information. Of course it won’t stay on the screen and there is the risk that you are now distracted driving if you have to log on to view more.

Who will take responsibility when you crash because you were booking your coffee with a free muffin at the gas station ahead with a simple one-click?

How do we make sure that the messages we get are not frequent and are highly relevant. If marketers don’t deliver on those two elements, there will not be huge value. I think the smartphones need to introduce features such as voice control, even while the phone is in locked mode.

The good one for me is things like real time traffic information. Tell me there is a road closure up ahead with a simple message, in fact why should I have to see the message at all? Why not just tell me and then let me use voice commands to open up my GPS car nav application so I can tell it to find me an alternate route, or if there isn’t one, give me the ability to reserve a table and have my latte ready and waiting on my arrival. I’m even happy to pay for it in advance knowing that the security on my mobile payment app is covered by my bank.

Just make sure that whatever you tell me is relevant to my needs. Of course that’s where the privacy issue comes in. How do you find our what I’m interested in and under which circumstances?

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Privacy Protections Unite Carmakers – Sci-Tech Today

Nineteen automakers accounting for most of the passenger cars and trucks sold in the U.S. have signed onto a set of principles they say will protect motorists’ privacy in an increasingly digital era.


It’s interesting how information pops up at the same time by coincidence when you are looking. I was just reading about Carnegie Mellon’s Privacy Grade site which identifies Android apps (Apple to come) where your information is likely to be shared with 3rd parties such as advertisers.

An example of one that rates a C (A is trustworthy and D is not good) is Angry Birds. What’s of real concern to me is that you might let your children play games like Angry Birds on your phone, not knowing that information about you, your location, behaviors, possibly even contact data may be sold to advertisers or others. If you have Angry Birds on your mobile device, your information is being shared with Facebook, Admob, MoPub and other advertisers to name a few.

Amongst other things this game can access your phone number, current state, device ID, carrier and a lot more. I don’t know if that only applies to the Freemium version, or if you are doing the same when you pay. The important thing is, did you know that ‘you’ had authorized that?

It’s great to see car manufacturers understanding the implications of privacy. Now it may be that privacy is already a thing of the past despite laws designed to protect us. The thing that these brands have worked out is that people may love the features but value their privacy and therefore choose not to buy a particular car because the manufacturer is sharing information with advertisers about where and when you are driving it.

I want to know how far away the nearest gas station is when I’m running low and I think it would be cool to have my car not only tell me that I have been driving for 2 hours and should take a break (which it does) but also where I can go to grab a coffee at a place with a good reputation and on my route is. The same with traffic, tell me there is a major incident ahead and suggest either an alternate route or somewhere good to wait it out, based on my preferences or interests. BUT, don’t ever share my data with a 3rd party without my express informed consent.

This is a very good move on behalf of these brands, who are showing not only that they want to be trustworthy, but that they understand implications of privacy and customer needs. Intelligent Transport Systems are the way of the very near future and we need standards. We need to protect people who don’t understand the technology and lets face it, that’s probably most of us…..

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Shared space: Why the best thing for some streets is a little bit of chaos

So many Americans fail to understand that uncertainty can be a good thing.


I would love to see this work, but the skeptic in me wonders if it would work anywhere remotely near where I live. Having said that, there is the odd street in Auckland that works like this. I’m not sure we are mature enough as drivers for this to work in an urban square.

It would be great to see this tested in a flat area such as Christchurch where there are more bikes. I’ve been to several conferences and seminars that talk about open spaces, green spaces, people friendly spaces, but most of it is theory and there is little happening in the area of urban redesign.

What do you reckon? Could it work here?

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New Hacking Threat Could Impact Traffic Systems – NBC Chicago

Motorists drive by traffic lights every day and trust they will work. But NBC 5 Investigates found that as more cities turn to wireless traffic systems, some of those systems are unprotected and open to…


It’s a wonder this hasn’t happened before. In a copy of The Futurist some time ago there was an article on SCATS systems (the systems often used to control everything from power utility company networks through to traffic lights in cities around the world.


One of the things they discovered in many sites was that the default passwords that these systems have when they are first installed, something like ‘PASSWORD’ was still the default. That means that anyone who found a random way of getting access to the systems could automatically get in without even having any computer skills.


Do you have any systems where the password is something obvious like Password, Password123 or Admin? Might be a good place to start looking……. At least don’t make it any easier than it needs to be!

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NXP, Honda, Siemens and Cohda Wireless launch smart car and ITS corridor in Europe

Published: November 12, 2014| Eindhoven, Netherlands NXP, Siemens, Honda, Cohda Wireless and forward-thinking politicians come together in an unprecedented move to make European traffic smarter, gr…


Self driving cars are coming and having specific corridors is a great idea. It allows the case to be proven and will reward people or businesses that invest in the technology.


I think the same thing should happen for hybrid and electric cars. Why not give them special lanes in return for their contribution to the environment.


The one thing I didn’t read in this story, which I feel is one of the most important elements is the number of people in the vehicle. When we talk about green driving, we should also consider other elements such as the space a vehicle takes up with only one person in it.

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