From today, Google Maps’ live traffic alerts are now available for users of the mobile app in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Google announced the update yesterday, and it means that Maps will give real-time traffic updates to drivers in congested cities like Lagos, Nairobi and Cape Town when they put their apps in Navigation mode.Google Maps

“Now when you input your destination, you’ll get a spoken alert for upcoming traffic conditions that helps you identify the quickest route.” they said in the blogpost.

“While you’re on the road, Google Maps will give you a heads up if congestion lies ahead, and how long you’ll be stuck in a jam. You’ll also get the option to take alternate routes, including explanations for why one is recommended – whether it’s the fastest or just avoids traffic.”

How does Google do it? The live updates leverage on technology from Waze, an Israeli company Google acquired for over $1 billion in 2013. In addition to all that traffic and accident data from Waze, Google receives anonymous bits of data from Android phones with location services turned on, and iPhones with the Google Maps app open. After analysing all this data, Google can tell how many cars/pedestrians are on the road, how fast they are going etc.

South Africa was recently rated as the 5th most congested country in the world, while Nairobi and Lagos are both famous for their unprecedented, merciless traffic gridlocks. The live alerts feature was first rolled out to users in the United States, 11 months ago in May 2015.

It’s about time, if you ask me.

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