Suna's traffic information service is now on offer in pretty much all of Australia's mainland capital cities. That still leaves some key locations to be covered, but the next stage for the service will be making more intelligent use of the data it already has.
At a media briefing in Melbourne yesterday, Suna developer Intelematics outlined its plans for "phase 2" of the service, which essentially involves analysing the existing information it has to better identify and predict traffic patterns. A key element in this plan is making use of "probe" data from devices fitted in commercial vehicles such as trucks and couriers to identify traffic patterns in areas which don't have lots of on-road sensors. Most of Melbourne's freeways are fitted with sensors; most of Sydney's aren't. Intelematics is also refining the algorithms used to manipulate existing data from traffic light systems.
The practical upshot of this is that the Suna service can better identify traffic problems as they occur in real time, even if they haven't been sent an alert via a state road authority or other service. Intelematics modelling suggests, for instance, that the phase 2 model would have identified the traffic problems on Sydney's F3 freeway in April this year that resulted in an eight-hour gridlock, and let users know to avoid the area within minutes of the incident happening.
Despite Australia's "wide brown land" reputation, we're actually an unusually urban market when it comes to traffic data. While American and European services typically concentrate on inter-city and freeway routes, the distance between Australia's major cities means that commuter journeys to and from work in the same city represent the major area of interest. Suna says it will eventually expand its service to cover Hobart and other major highways, though it doesn't have a specific timetable.