San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Clear Channel, which provides real-time traffic to GPS makers such as Garmin, TomTom and BMW, announced it is expanding the market coverage of its traffic service, with the capability to reach 92 markets, almost double its current coverage.
To achieve the expanded coverage, Clear Channel is using traffic information collected by vehicles already on the road that are equipped with some form of location device so they can broadcast their travel speed as they are driven. These are known as "probe vehicles." The probe data is supplied by Kirkland, Wash.-based Inrix.
Most real-time traffic reports rely mainly on road sensors but these are available only in 20 to 30 U.S. markets, and so the coverage is limited, explained Inrix president/CEO, Bryan Mistele. Inrix added traffic speed data from close to 625,000 probe vehicles and pools this data with road-sensor data and other traffic information sources. This allows traffic coverage of more than 50,000 miles of roadway.
Clear Channel has conducted "ground truth testing" to verify the speed data in each of the new markets for the past two months, and will begin to "turn on" new cities starting at the end of the first quarter. Clear Channel currently covers 49 metropolitan areas and would not say how many it will add at the end of the quarter.
The use of probe vehicles in traffic updates for GPS devices is gaining momentum and is expected to take off later this year (see p. 39).