Brisbane roads now on the virtual map

Motorists rejoice - live traffic updates for Brisbane roads are now available via Directions on Google Maps as the search giant updates the monitoring service first launched across major Australian cities in 2009.

This latest upgrade to the journey-planning function of the digital mapping service follows the recent inclusion of the city’s bicycle paths in the data streams which already enable public transport and walking route options.

It means people can now also take current traffic conditions into account when determining how best to get around Brisbane by using Maps to plot a route and selecting "get directions".

The driving journey estimations rely on data from mobile Maps users who have GPS enabled and the "My Location" feature turned on while travelling on Brisbane streets.

These live updates combine with the historic traffic data used by the original mapping service.

A spokeswoman for Google Australia said the Google Maps feature was designed to give an accurate understanding trip times.

‘‘For example, if you’re looking for directions from the Gold Coast to West End, we know you’re not going to arrive in Brisbane for at least another hour,’’ she said.

‘‘Therefore what the current traffic in Brisbane looks like when you set off on your journey is less relevant.

‘‘What Google Maps does is look at the traffic in Brisbane at the same time last week, and use that to make a prediction on what traffic will be like when you actually drive into Brisbane.’’

However, the user-generated element can mean there are gaps in the live information available to motorists.

A test trip by carto the Brisbane Airport from Bowen Hills planned this morning revealed two suggested routes, one via Shaftston Avenue and the Gateway Motorway and the other using the Clem7 tunnel and Kingsford Smith Drive, offered no live traffic updates for the Tunnel.

And new road infrastructure – such as the recently completely Airport Link tunnel – takes a while to enter the mapping database meaning some alternative routes may be overlooked.

But Google is hoping the more motorists use their software the better the directions will be, encouraging drivers with smartphones to activate their devices while on the road via their website.

“If you’d like to help make our estimates better through crowdsourcing and have a GPS-enabled phone, try using Google Maps for mobile the next time you’re in traffic,” the company writes.

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