BLOG: The Changing (Virtual) Reality of Driver Expectations

For drivers too young to remember life before Sat Navs and Google Maps, planning a cross country journey involved studying maps, confirming the route with friends and if all else failed, stopping to ask directions.

Now, it is simply a case of entering a destination postcode into a phone or Sat Nav to receive instant step-by-step directions, an estimated arrival time and the option to avoid routes including tolls or motorways. The idea of manually studying and planning our own routes and not having a precise to-the-minute arrival time has become almost horrifying.

Digital and virtual data is now such a normal feature of modern life that its reliability is no longer questioned. Yet less than 20 years ago the distrust in technology was so real that fear of leaving the ‘90s to enter the ‘00s sparked a worldwide Y2K bug concern.

Now, we trust data for almost everything we do and have become so reliant upon it, that it is its absence – rather than its presence – that concerns us more. With mobile phones providing unlimited access to worldwide information at our fingertips, we expect the same level of information in all walks – and drives – of life.

As motorists, we now expect a certain level of information to guide us through our journeys and advise of any subsequent disruption; the unknown frustrates us. It is no longer enough to display

a sign warning of impending roadworks; we want to know why they are there, how far they extend to and how long we will be inconvenienced for.

Our virtual Journey Time Monitoring Application does just that. By using crowdsource data, we can measure the time taken to travel between two predetermined destinations and use this information to inform motorists using VMS (Variable Message Signs).

The data can be used to advise of the time taken to travel from the beginning to the end of roadworks and forewarn drivers of delays through congestion. In towns and cities, it can also advise of the time to different car parking locations, helping to inform motorists and potentially alleviate pressure on already congested roads.

For road operators, the same virtual data can be used to manage the network more efficiently, without the need or expense of the hardwired roadside equipment which was previously required for journey time management.

Our Journey Time Monitoring system can be set up, revised and cancelled from a computer in minutes and by entering the ‘normal’ travel time between two destinations, alerts will automatically generate when traffic slows. This data provides operators with the information they need to react to incidents immediately, whether it’s dispatching a rescue vehicle or updating VMS to inform motorists of delays.

The advantages of journey time extend further for operators, including detailed reports and heatmaps for analytics, all of which are generated through virtual data.

What was once considered an untrustworthy or unreliable concept is now the source of vital information which in-car maps, Sat Navs and mobile apps have capitalised on and drivers have revelled in. So much so, that although not physically visible, the benefits of virtual data are seen daily.