Knowing more about what's happening on the road in front of you, including accidents, speed traps, checkpoints or construction will undoubtedly influence your driving. You might change your route, slow down or just grin and bear it.
Having that information sent to you in near-real time is now possible with most mobile phones thanks to Trapster (www.trapster.com.) Trapster already has more than 7.2 million people using its free services, including more than 12,000 in the Las Vegas Valley.
Trapster users not only benefit from having current route information, they also help provide that information, Trapster founder and Chief Executive Officer Pete Tenereillo said.
"We get data from four sources," Tenereillo said. "From the user database; through an army of 350 moderators worldwide; from police agencies; and from paid staff."
Tenereillo is a big believer in crowdsourcing.
"There's a long-standing tradition of people spending a lot of time on the Web doing things they are interested in doing," he said. "The moderators are entering new information, such as where (traffic) cameras are going to be and where DUI (drunken-driving) checkpoints are set up. A lot of times police announce it, and people listen to police scanners."
Tenereillo said he's gotten no push-back from law enforcement and cites several examples of working with police agencies, including Travis County, Texas, where he met with officials.
"Now, when they set up motorcycle enforcement, they enter it in Trapster. It gives people more confidence and the information is more accurate," he said. "Police actually do want people to slow down. Only a small percentage are hiding behind a bush. At major metros, they have bigger problems. They would rather get people to slow down without having to pull them over."
Trapster got rolling in late 2007, but the introduction of its iPhone application in October 2008 kicked things into the fast lane.
"We already amassed about 40,000 users, but once we launched the iPhone and BlackBerry apps it took off," Tenereillo said. "We had a half-million users in less than six months and now we're adding up to 250,000 users per week."
People running the app on a smart phone will get an audio alert in one of several voices they can select after registering on the website.
There are many warnings about the increased battery drain when the app is running. As a result, Tenereillo said he's helped teach many iPhone users how to exit an app, which ends the calls to the global positioning system. I found this helpful, as I installed the app on my new iPhone and experienced the battery drain. I'll post instructions on closing apps on my blog at lvrj.com/blogs/onlineguy.
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