SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc. is set to offer an online service
that lets users view live U.S. local traffic conditions on
custom-created maps, the first site to do so nationally, the company
said late on Wednesday.
In a milestone for Internet-based traffic services, Yahoo has beefed
up its existing mapping services to allow customers to plot a route
from one local destination to another, and overlay traffic data such
as road speeds and potential delays.
The new service can be found at http://maps.yahoo.com/.
While local radio, television and weather sites have offered traffic
tracking for years, many of the maps and features are primitive. No
national site exists that offers dynamically generated traffic maps,
Yahoo executives said.
"Certainly the distribution of this content on the Yahoo site is just
a starting point," Paul Levine, general manager of Yahoo's local
services unit, said in an interview. Eventually, users away from
computers may be able to receive traffic alerts via e-mail or on
phones with links to live maps, he said.
He declined to say whether or when a version of the service might be
offered on mobile devices such as phones, wireless handheld computers
or car location systems. The service is currently only available for
viewing U.S. road conditions.
The traffic mapping feature, which will be available across Yahoo's
search, local content and map sections of the site, is the latest move
to enhance Yahoo's local information push and follows rival Google's
own recent push into online mapping.
Google recently acquired Keyhole Corp., a supplier of online satellite
maps that allow users to zoom to street level and view locations such
as buildings or even cars. A big limitation is that Keyhole maps rely
on previously collected photos and as such give no snapshot of current
By contrast, Yahoo's dynamic maps draw on real-time traffic
information from metropolitan transportation departments and private
providers, including embedded road sensors, traffic cameras, police
scanners, and traffic helicopters. Yahoo declined to identify the
exact sources of its traffic data.
The site boasts traffic accident reports and road construction
information in more than 70 metropolitan areas, in effect covering
regions where three-quarters of the U.S. population lives. Real-time
driving speed data will be available in the more than 20 top
The new service generates regional maps that include the user's
starting point and destination. Roadways are colored green, yellow and
red, to highlight the normal movement of traffic, minor delays or
severe road congestion. A user can hover over a stretch of road to
view details of impediments. They can drill down at hazards to see
Yahoo's existing map service allows users to type in only single
addresses, then zoom in or out on the resulting local map. Icons
displaying convenient entertainment, shopping and services can be
served up at the user's request.
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