SugarTrip - Social Traffic Mapping for Google Android

I’m not really an iPhone person. I have nothing against Apple per se – they make well engineered, aesthetically pleasing, and very functional hardware and software. I’m a technology guy, though, and I like to futz with things. Apple is not really the platform for futzers. If proprietary software makes me feel crampt, proprietary sofware combined with proprietary hardware makes me feel positively claustrophobic. And as much as Rockbox and jail breaking an iPhone appeal to the aaaarg! in me, I hate to pay the Apple premium for something I have to hack around.

What I’m waiting for (should the begging and pleading with my wife prove fruitful) is an Android phone. Google’s Android is the first complete, open, and free mobile platform. Your only limits are your imagination. Being open source, the list of applications for Android is growing at a fantastic rate.

Which brings me to SugarTrip, which I found a really interesting amalgamation of GIS and social networking. It’s a traffic monitoring and trip planning¬† application. The unique thing about it is it takes advantage of the GPS units in user’s phones to measure traffic speed. The speed is reported back to a central server, where all users can take advantage of information. While most traffic rate information is based on modeling and on relatively few data points, SugarTrip will have real time information and as many data collection points as their are users on a particular street. It’s essentially social traffic monitoring.

Users will be able to see their own routes and routes taken by others to find the best way to get out of traffic. Not only will this save you time and money, it’ll also lower air pollution. It’s a really creative idea, and I hope enough users will jump on board to make the application functional.

SugarTrip may not make the Android lauch date (October 22), but it should be out soon. Should I get an Android, it’ll be the first thing I check out.