Posted by: Mobile Kugel on Aug 16, 2011
Nokia Maps may just be the answer for South Africans who feel like they spend a substantial chunk of their days in traffic.
While @PigSpotter has been a source of humour for some*, it has helped its followers dodge the popo, their camera’s and on the odd occasion traffic caused by an accident.
The more legal route is to listen to the traffic reports on the radio, but those only happen every half an hour or so and are limited to high traffic areas.
Since now, there has been no major breakthrough in the South African mobile mapping and real-time traffic world.
While there are services available like Samsung’s Wave’s Route 66 navigation, MTN’s one year trial on Gar-Map and Vodacom’s similar offer with their service Vodafone SatNav, they come with their limitations. The problem with these services is that they are often limited to device, features, access, accuracy and are often billable.
Nokia has, over the years been investing a lot of time and money into creating a great mobile mapping product and finally, South Africans who own high end Nokia’s now have free access to Nokia Maps real-time traffic data on their Symbian-based smart phones.
(example of the 3D feature of Cape Town, image from: http://bit.ly/pvG0cR)
Nokia Maps is pre-loaded on all Symbian based smartphones and includes free turn-by-turn guided navigation.
Traffic information is the latest addition to Nokia Maps, which already supports drive and walk navigation (in JHB and CT), weather, social networking and location information through services such as Trip Advisor.
Some of the features of Nokia Maps include traffic updates on congestion, road block, closures and other incidents by colour coding roads red, amber or green depending on traffic flow.
The Finnish based company claims that Nokia Maps has the most accurate road mapping in SA, and says it includes 100% coverage of the country’s 554 239km road network.
In addition to the new features for mobile devices, the browser-based Nokia Maps for desktop computers has also been upgraded. One can browse photorealistic 3D views of Cape Town (the rest of the country to follow) and heat mapping which tracks high density areas of the city.
What a great feature for December holidays when Cape Town is bursting at the seams with the Joburg influx.
The 3D imaging works through specialised camera equipment which is able to take one image per second of the same object, up to 100 times, each at a different angle. The images are then stitched together to form the 3D object using image processing software (similar to photosynth).
How it works
The traffic service receives information from digital traffic sensors as well as commercial and government partners via Nokia’s subsidiary Navteq. It is also able to crowd source information from users.
The crowd sourcing feature relies on the idea that the more people who use the service, the more accurate it will be.
While crowd sourcing is a great feature, the kind of people I would imagine to participate traffic information crowd sourcing are between 18 - 40. As far as my observations go, this population dynamic go hand in hand with a Blackberry. And based on my rough idea of the market I am guessing that the crowd sourcing options for Nokia Maps would be the playground of a minority of high end Nokia users. Maybe I am wrong?
My mom has a Nokia and the map feature is the bane of her existence because it has such prominence on the device. She doesn’t even want to learn how it works.
Google competes (obviously)
Whether by sheer coincidence or bad timing, Nokia’s announcement came not even a week after Google launched their free turn-by-turn navigation for South African Android 1.6 (or higher) users.
While Google does not yet offer real-time traffic information, this feature is sure to come in the near future.
Google (although the pisher for now) will most probably dominate because:
- Google maps navigation is fully integrated with mobile phones so the user can click on a person in their contact list, calendar or website and get immediate direction.
- The voice search functionality for SA includes support for searches in isiZulu and Afrikaans.
- It is also possible to pick a destination from the map itself, rather than having to enter an address or point of interest like the Garman or Tom Tom.
- Travelers can search for any kind of business as they travel on a specific route or turn on layers such as petrol stations, restaurants or parking.
- The service also offers a degree of offline functionality. If one loses connection the navigation will cache information for current route.
At the end of the day
I think it is a great feature for Nokia users. While Google does have street view, one could argue that for a South African, the heat mapping feature and the real-time traffic information is far more valuable.
Considering the new toll system in Johannesburg is close to being fully implemented, I am guessing there will be a lot of drivers trying to dodge the fee by using the ‘back roads’, and once people get the hang of their new routes, Nokia Maps will be a miracle for those wanting to spend less time in the traffic.
Check out the Nokia Blog for more information
(image from belowthe lion.co.za http://bit.ly/oT6FNh)
I know most of you know about @PigSpotter, but have you actually read some of the tweets? They are absolutely hilarious. Here are some, THEY WILL MAKE YOUR DAY!
- Bacon trapping at usual spot
- Miss Piggy settin up photography equipment before Grayston off-ramp
- 4 some Porkfest in Elsburg rd. Opposite the township. Germiston. Some rashers pulling randoms over at the usual Lanseria stop, R512
- Bacon may as well have a permanent little pig pen under Witkoppen Bridge on William Nicol towards 4ways mall, also pulling at Design Quarter
- Pork Rashers setting up shop on Bowling Ave just before bridge at Witkoppen.
- Bacon trapping opposite Bryanston high on William Nicol
- Trough munchers doing random pullovers on the van buuren south offramp
- Fatty porkies sitting on middle island on M1N by Burchmores.
- Two bacon bits, with tripod: N1 (both directions) under Rabie st bridge.
- Miss piggy in bus stop on Barry Hertzog just past Greenhill road.
- Crackling trapping on main road towards kyalami side
- Sow looking for piglets with her camera on m1 after Corlett drive offramp towards town both sides hidden behind bushes on sides
- Herd of piglets holding a roadblock on william nicol onramp to the N1
- Swine photo shoots on empire road both sides and on jan smuts after the zoo towards town from the rear
- Kermit's ex sitting in the shade of a tree, Beyers Naude opposite Peugeot Fairlands - 60km/h
- Roman Poligski filming fast cars at the bottom of Bowling ave
- Crackalacking on usual spot, centre isle, Republic road, near William Nicol, both directions, camera 60kmph