Looky Loo or Rubbernecker – growing my traffic jargon vocabulary

looky looI was monitoring RTTI or Real Time Traffic Twitter accounts yesterday and read a new name for an old problem, that I hadn’t heard of before. Down Under we call them rubberneckers. It’s the same result though. Frequently when there is a bad accident on a freeway, it’s people driving on the other side in the other direction that slow down for a look that often causes more problems than the accident itself. In fact I would question, if someone has a nose-to-tail because they were looking at another crash, is it actually an accident?

Not long ago there was a five car nose-to-tail crash on an Auckland motorway. Police and emergencies managed to keep one lane flowing and traffic was moving pretty well. In the opposite direction traffic was almost at a standstill. The reason was because of people slowing down to look at the crash. Frequently in those sorts of conditions there are secondary crashes, caused purely because of people’s innate curiosity. Then of course the situation gets worse.

This happens around the world all the time. People try to blame the state for not enough lanes or for other reasons, the fact is, you could have ten lanes and its still going to happen, because people want to know what’s going on. Some countries have tried barriers, mostly used to protect people from seeing very nasty injury accidents, that even more makes people want to slow down.

This blog from Contract Hire and Leasing in the UK says that‘Rubbernecking’ has been known to increase congestion and cause minor accidents or fatal collisions, with an estimated knock-on cost of £750m to the economy every year, according to the Department for Transport. Check out the photo here. Which side of the road do you reckon the accident was on?

Apparently some 75% of people admit to rubbernecking and I expect a very large percentage of them also complain about rubberneckers especially when they are in a hurry.

Do a search on Twitter for rubberneckers and you’ll find it is a massive pet hate. So how do we stop it?




Posted in car accidents, car crash, distracted driving, real time traffic, rubberneckers, safer driving, traffic congestion, Traffic jam, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Remember the jokes about what if computer manufacturers built cars?

Mashable Australia put out a story this month about A Tesla that crashed while on Autopilot, where the ‘driver’ died and discussed the implications to the industry.

So what exactly does autopilot mean. I’ve been on the jump seat on the  flight deck of aircraft several times when they are on autopilot. The crew keep an eye out and are ready to act, but they also might be having a coffee, a meal or turning around for a chat. They can do so safely and it is normal practice. Some captains might tell you that it is a safer and more comfortable flight.

There is one significant difference and that is there are no other planes within a potentially dangerous distance and as soon as something does come into their airspace, or there are environmental changes, the pilot is alerted and takes back control. The biggest difference is that they have time to take back control of the aircraft.

Now come back to the Tesla and various types of driverless or autonomous cars that share the road with a ton of other vehicles ‘manned by drivers of various degrees of skill. Remember the pilot has trained for years before he is allowed to fly a commercial airliner. The person in the car next to you might not even have a license!

Let’s look a bit closer at those people and compare their behaviour to the rigor of a commercial pilot. Half of them wouldn’t pass a road driving test, whereas a commercial pilot has to constantly re-qualify their ratings for each type of plane they command and that includes simulations of events that are tough and realistic enough to come out of a SIM , vomiting and emotionally shaken, so that they know how to deal with a situation if it really occurs.

One of the issues I have discussed in the past is visibility. In this story they talk about the color match between the truck trailer the Tesla hit and the car itself. It was difficult to distinguish.

In the street furniture data capture exercise I was involved with, on bad weather days or under intense low ambient light that Auckland commuters face every sunny day, it is very difficult frequently to see much of anything including speed restriction and others signs. Then on bad weather days like twilight in the rain we have to deal with things like ghost markings, where old lane markings can be difficult to distinguish from the new markings. They can be meters apart. Lots of crashes or incidents are blamed on people following poor quality data, which could be similar data to that which autonomous cars would use. Here are 18 examples.

How about other humans that want to interfere, like boy racers https://thefuturediaries.com/2013/04/19/boy-racers-make-sport-with-driverless-cars/. I drive a Corvette and frequently have young drivers wanting to bait me or show me how fast their Mazda Familia is. I choose to ignore them, but I have the ability to not only react to their frequently irrational behaviour, but also to their faces or gestures, something a LiDAR system can’t do.

Pokemon MapI heard a comment yesterday from someone quoting a driver who is big on Pokemon Go. He said “There was a Pokemon on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and I had to really slow down to get it.” That in itself is scary as hell, especially with the high winds and harsh weather conditions we have had recently, but more importantly, how will a driverless car cope with other vehicles individually or in groups, like the story above. That sort of behavior “does not compute”

It is interesting to read in the linked story that Tesla’s car is in fact a ‘Level 2’ and as such they expect the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel and if they don’t, an audible alarm will sound. In effect it is not yet a driverless car, it is a car that assists the driver.

This is interesting when I hear about the fact that a Tesla drove itself over the Harbour Bridge some months ago. Check out this link to the story and video from the NZ Herald http://bit. Apparently the driver had his arms folded. He therefore did not comply with Tesla’s regulations unless that car was more sophisticated than the current models. Here’s another example in Sydney:

Now put yourself in the ‘drivers seat’ of this car, if you could afford one and imagine showing it off to your friends, which of course you would do if you had one. Would you be demonstrating your driverless car with your hands on the steering wheel?

Once again, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for driverless vehicles when they are ready, safe and suitable for our road network and can operate safely next to all the people who run red lights, don’t indicate last second lane changes on motorways, are distracted by playing Pokemon Go or sending messages on their phone. I love the idea of distributed ownership and other concepts that will come from this. I just wonder if we are being a little hoodwinked by manufacturers who are looking to generate huge profits from their designs now, not in 10 years time.

Remember the jokes of what if Microsoft designed a car? Here is one of Bill Gate’s own stories http://bit.ly/29RJXh0. Well guess what? Brands like Google are now doing exactly that. Are you ready for this? Would you buy one today?

Posted in Autonomous cars, bad gps, Best GPS, Car Nav Caused Crash, Car Navigation, commuting, driver distraction, Driverless car, GPS Accuracy, GPS Car Nav, GPS MAde Me Do IT, GPS Maps, GPS Nav, GPS Problems, Pokemon Go, traffic, traffic congestion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8 Things to know before you start looking at buy a house

Buying a House Final Cover ArtI drive past people on my way to work daily, struggling to get their cars out of their driveways on busy streets, I mean they are waiting minutes just for a gap to safely get out of their driveway. I wonder to myself, did they research this hours? Surely they looked at it during rush hour (as someone recently pointed out, no one gets to rush st rush hour). Surely they did their homework on what it’s like to get in and out of the property.

I live in Auckland where the prices are going up every hour as 3 more people move into the city. hat’s right we average a new resident every 20 minutes, supply isn’t meeting demand and it won’t for some time.

I was in Europe last year and I noticed in the Netherlands that property which used to have a similar value to New Zealand houses on my previous trip was now cheaper. I looked at real estate in Nashville 4 years ago and there were beautiful homes on an acre or more of land, you know with the big pillars at the front door, for less than half of the value of my Auckland property. I was sorely tempted to buy one, except that I couldn’t afford to travel there frequently to enjoy it.

Those homes weren’t always cheap, but the market bubbled and many say it will eventually happen in Auckland. I don’t think that will be any time soon despite the interventions of Government, simply because so many people want to live here. Council predicts that we will grow by around a million people in under 30 years. That’s a few apartments and houses that will be needed and we already have a shortage, frequently stated as around 30,000. There is even a shortage of quality building materials. Now there’s a thought, what if you bought a house on an unsound concrete base or it was a leaky home.

It astounds me that people put more time into planning a wedding than they do in researching where to live for a big chunk of their lives. They leave it up to the Real Estate Agents to guide them round. I have bought and sold a few houses in my lifetime and  can tell you there are some awesome agents around, but like any profession, there are also a lot of people who go through the motions or are simply focused on getting their next commission cheque. (Kiwi spelling folks:))

So what should you be thinking about? Here are a few links of short blogs related to my book.

  • Crime statistics on a map. Have you ever been burgled? Some streets have more problems than others, even in the best neighborhoods.
  • Value in relation to distance from the city by train stop. With new light rail and improved rail services, this will have an impact on your investment in Auckland. Here’s an example from London.
  • Where can an average earner buy in your area?
  • I find the racial divide interesting. I didn’t consider that when I bought my latest house because it means nothing to me, but in some areas it can mean a lot to property values. Like it or not, its a fact, even in New Zealand where we truly celebrate the differences. Check out the gaps in America. Is that scary or what?
  • How about pollution. Do you have kids with asthmatic tendencies? Did you check out things like pollen? One of the things we liked about our first home was the fruit orchard over the back fence. What we didn’t know was that they regularly sprayed it with pesticides.
  • Do you want to live near people who are like you? Have the same income levels, the same interests and opportunities as you, or perhaps slightly better? Do you want to live somewhere where unemployment is high and times are tough. People that have similar values to you might be of concern.
  • Does school zone matter? Do you want kids to go to a certain school? Do they have aptitude for something that a particular school offers, but where zoning restrictions limit where you can live if you want to be eligible to go to it?
  • What about the looking process, how do you remember which house had the mold in the bedroom and which one had the nice carpet, nice view, man-cave. There are tools and tips.

These are just a few items to think about. There are so many more in my Kindle eBook which will cost you less than 2 small coffees. In fact it looks like they are running a promotion on it, because when I looked this morning it was $5.32! If you got one simple tip out of it that’s worth it’s weight in gold! If that’s too much, have a look at that blogs in the Real Estate stream of my blog. There are plenty.

Posted in Buying a House, Crime, Education, location based apps, Location Based Education, location based marketing, Location Based Servces, Location Based Services, New Zealand, New Zealand Maps, Real Estate, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sell More Beer With Pokemon Go

Or anything else at your destination retail or hospitality business.

I’ve spent years trying to get businesses to invest in location based services, apps, maps and the like. Now if you are in the business and are a little bit savvy, you can potentially make a lot of sales for next to nothing.

Here’s how you do it. If you own a bar, microbrewery, restaurant, cafe, how would you like to make some profit and have some fun?

lureAll you need to do is get a Pokemon player to come to your location and set up a lure. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what that is, find a teenager or someone of legal age, if you are selling alcohol and get them to set up a lure at your premises.

Comp them a beer or product for their trouble or give them $1.99 which will buy them the 100 coins needed to set up a lure which will attract Pokemon players from all over the place, who are walking around right now trying to catch Pokemon characters.

It will last or half an hour and if you sell one beer, you will have made a profit! I would hope that my friends at BBC (Birkenhead Brewing company)will have already thought of this and of course the awesome Giapo in Auckland City for those looking for something non alcoholic like an amazing gelato.

coinsOf course you could keep that going for quite a while while the novelty lasts and it doesn’t have to be limited to retail, it could be the zoo, a theater or pretty much any destination. It could be a bus or a train even. You could have people jumping on public transport just to play the game.

Anyway, if I had a destination, that’s what I’d be doing right now and if you follow my advice and it works for you, I could be open for a small thank-you of a lager or an ice cream, although it is a bit cold right now! At the very least, please share my blog with someone you think could benefit from it and help me pay it forward. I would also welcome comments, positive or negative:) OK, I’d prefer positive lol.




Posted in Gamification, GPS Games, Hospitality, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, Location based games, location based marketing, Location Based Servces, New retail ideas, Retail, retail apps | 1 Comment

Synthia – A Simulation of Driverless Car Training

It’s an nice cartoon simulation, but I want to see the real video. In the simulation I noted:
-Ambient light. Cool, that’s a real problem in only a few parts of the world, like New Zealand. As are long periods of sun-strike as a consequence of the low zenith of the sun, especially in winter, but also all year round which has caused problems for other technologies, like supermarket scanners (ask me about it)
-It didn’t seem to slow down for speed humps. Very bad for car suspension as taxi drivers at airports keep telling me.
-It didn’t seem to slow down for pedestrian crossings. As we all know, a large percentage of people walk with 2 eyes on their smartphone and relying on peripheral vision for way-finding. The law says they have right of way on a pedestrian crossing that doesn’t have signals.
-It appeared to be good in snow and other weather conditions, but this appears to be based on locations where it already has great information about existing street furniture. The problem there is things can change daily. Road maintenance for example can be unplanned, or may proceed at different times to what is planned. In many cases that information is not shared with car navigation and other data sources and it is also not specific. It may say that there is a project happening on Monday to Friday between the hours of 09:00 and 16:00, but not that there will be a digger and a big hole in the middle of the road surrounded by cones as there are outside my driveway right now. In bad weather such as snow, the systems might not see holes surrounded by cones or covered with cloth.
-People are unpredictable, look at the number of crashes where cars (driven by intelligent people) hit parked vehicles, crash into trees and buildings where there are no other vehicles involved, or people just walk into the path of a car that can’t stop in time.

In 50 years or so when almost all cars (other than classics) have V2V communications, normal driving will be more predictable for autonomous vehicles, but a lot of people are predictably irrational.

If there were zones that were only allowed to be used by vehicles with compatible communications technology, that could work, but you would still have to bar pedestrians from those locations.

This is also so easy in a perfect world, but humans are not perfect and they train AI’s. These simulations are important and we will enjoy many fringe technologies that will come from this testing that can go into people driven cars and make them safer as interim steps. That will save money and lives.

It’s interesting to see how well people can walk on bust Manhattan streets while looking at their mobiles, but we have all seen people walk into poles. 2 steps or a sudden slip onto a road with an average speed of 30mph.

If you think driverless cars will become commonplace in the next 10 years, I think you are being overly optimistic. I have spent a lifetime asking “when the benefits are so obvious, why aren’t we all doing it?” The answer is because we are people and we are not highly motivated to change and especially not when the change is expensive or inconvenient. Of course without idealists nothing would change and today its no longer the minority of us who want change.



Posted in Artificial intelligence, Autonomous cars, car accidents, car crash, Crash, distracted pedestrians, Driverless car, People | Tagged | Leave a comment

Some People are Sheep – Some People are Lemmings

Of course you aren’t moved by the crowd. You’re intelligent and reading my blog.

IMG_0722Have you ever been in this situation? You’re out on a Saturday evening and you’ve decided to go out for dinner. You walk past a few restaurants you spy a couple of menu’s that look good. One restaurant is very busy, the other almost empty. You go into the busy restaurant thinking “they must know something I don’t.” The meal turns out to be decidedly average and you think to yourself, “maybe they didn’t know anything after all. I’m not going back there again.”

Last week I wrote a blog on Scoopt curating an article

GPS Reliance Gets Trucks Stuck, and Vermont is Fed Up | Transport Topics Online

It was about trucks that use GPS that takes them onto roads that aren’t suitable for trucks. The GPS units they were using were not suitable for trucks, i.e. they did not have information about heavy, long and wide vehicles. They then frequently get stuck on rural roads with expensive consequences.

I thought it was a shame that there wasn’t GPS suitable for trucks which have different attributes, like height, width and length. One of my faithful blog readers came to the rescue. He pointed out that there are in fact a number of brands of GPS navigation and Fleet Management that have appropriate information available for trucks. Perhaps the key is that the truck companies or drivers aren’t using them because they cost more, or not using them effectively.

Fleet Management systems know where problem areas are and despatchers avoid them when they are doing their route planning and optimization, but that doesn’t mean drivers get an alert or warning if they deviate from them or may ignore them thinking they know better, or that they are making the smartest decision based on needing to be somewhere in a hurry. Brands including HERE, Navman Wireless, International Telematics and eRoad have attributes that would tell the users that certain roads are not suitable for some or all trucks.

Navman TruckSo here are a couple of options they could use (not available in every country). Navman has MyTruckII, which includes all the detail needed to avoid incidents like this, as does Garmin on their truck product called Dezl. They have specific alerts to ensure that truck drivers don’t drive up the wrong track. This would support both route planning and warnings on route, like these graphics:Garmin Warnings.JPG

So recently there was a serious crash. Huge gantry Visual Message Signs right across the motorway were used to tell all drivers that the major highway was closed and instructing the official detour route for vehicles of all types. Some people either ignored the giant signs overhanging the motorway or were distracted and missed them. The motorway ahead remained open for people traveling to destinations before the crash site. Police had to attend and turn around a continuous sheep-like convoy of vehicles that had not followed instructions, who then had a long journey back to the official detour.

A truck driver appears to have managed to slip the net and went on their own detour, which was similar to the one in the story above at Smugglers Notch, where incidentally they will get fined if they are caught.

Like the story above, the truck went up the unpaved and unsuitable road and jack-knifed, blocking the road in both directions. To make it worse, half a dozen other trucks also decided to do the same thing and found themselves stuck behind the jack-knifed truck for a number of hours when the official detour might have only added 15-20 minutes to their journey. This blocked the road for vehicles that were suitable for the road and incurred significant costs in helping the distressed vehicles off the road and back to where they should have gone in the first place.

So here’s my question. Are you smart and follow instructions by the authorities whose job it is to give you the information that will help you to get to you destination, are you a sheep who thinks “if it works for them it will work for me, I will follow them”, or are you a lemming, or should I call it a sheep-lemming and will blindly follow people as they jump off the cliff?

Then just 3 days later in Sydney a Coles Driver does the same and blames his GPS. You can find it on Twitter by searching for #TheGPSMadeMeDoIt or go to https://twitter.com/BluesBro/status/744019841128992769



Posted in #TheGPSMadeMeDoIt, bad gps, Best GPS, GPS Car Nav, GPS Excuses, GPS features, GPS Navigation, traffic, Traffic jam, Truck GPS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catching laptop and phone thieves with Prey

Yesterday I read a Facebook post from an associate saying that on Monday his laptop had been stolen and on Friday he had it back thanks to a free software application called Prey and quick action by Police who had a fairly easy job to do.

A lot of the time theft becomes just an insurance claim, but how often do we read stories like “priceless wedding, trip or family photos that aren’t backed up”; and “left my phone in a taxi and they say they haven’t got it.” Technology is easy to replace and the paperwork and case files mean Police don’t have the resources to try to solve every theft crime.

There is also the issue of having to prove the device is in fact stolen, so how about the ability to send a message to the device screen that locks on a message like “This device has been stolen from xxx, please contact via this email address to arrange it’s return.” It also provides the ability to remotely wipe the device, the same as Where’s my iPhone and similar apps.

This free app (which also offers premium services), allows you to monitor the location of up to 3 devices. Any more you have to pay for, but they have to make money too right?

PreySo the app search report not only told him where his laptop was, but also photos of the people using it (as they were preparing to sell it), It also provided details of their email, their Facebook and Trade Me details, lots of photos of their home and of course most importantly, their address.

They met the Police at the location where the laptop was recovered intact and arrests were made. Someone else responded to the Facebook post with a similar story, which confirms what I have frequently said They lost their iPad but were able to provide similar details to the Police who also found lots of cash, marijuana and methamphetamine on the premises of the lowlifes who stole it.

So instead of putting more time into my blog this morning before work, I installed Prey on my laptop. They also support Android, iOS and Linux, so I will be installing it on my iPhone and iPads as well. Yes there are lots of similar apps, although this has some nice added value features.

I don’t usually promote products on this blog, but in this case, with the recommendation and having now installed it myself, I’m keen to share it with you. The installation took around 3 minutes, so don’t say you wish you had time,

Posted in Crime, Crime Prevention, cybercrime, Police, theft, track crime | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment