Twitter and Text Analysis to Help You Surf Through Traffic

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The first official SAP iPhone application is already available on iTunes. Unfortunately, it’s probably not much use to you unless you happen to be reading this in Brisbane, Australia.

But the free application, created by the folks in the SAP Research center who brought you the Google Wave / SAP “Gravity” prototype, is a wonderful example of what Web 2.0 technology can do in today’s increasingly wired world.

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Here’s the blurb from the application’s page on iTunes that gives an overview of the application:

Stuck in traffic? An event at Suncorp Stadium clogging up William Jolly Bridge? An accident on Gympie Road? Wish you simply took the other way? BNE Traffic is here to help — life is too short to be stuck in traffic!

BNE Traffic is a research prototype created by SAP Research, the global technology research unit of SAP AG, acting as your personal crystal ball for the streets of Brisbane. Before heading out, make an informed choice of routes by viewing what others have already encountered — we leverage the information of hundreds of users. The application shows a map of the greater Brisbane area and displays information about current traffic conditions. Pins on the map allow you to easily recognize where obstacles have been identified. Based on the information associated with these pins, you can adjust your route accordingly and avoid traffic jams. With the help of BNE Traffic, you do not have to be late for that movie, important meeting, or dinner date again.

Features

  • Displays traffic incidents around greater Brisbane graphically
  • Leverages information from hundreds of users through the Twitter platform (#bnetraffic)
  • Works in read-only mode and therefore does not transmit any of your private information
  • Uses cutting-edge text analytics technology

And here’s a video that gives an overview of the application and the technology used: it extracts tweets tagged with “#bnetraffic”, then uses the SAP BusinessObjects Text Analysis technology to extract the geolocation information and place the information on the appropriate place in a Google map. And the whole thing is hosted using Amazon’s cloud technology. Interestingly, the researchers claim that the application took only three days to put together (but getting authorizations to put in on the iTunes store took another three months).

[Update] Check out the blog post on SDN, An Unconvential Use of SAP Text Analysis by Marek Kowalkiewicz of SAP Research describing the project.

Surfer photo by “d.i.”

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3 Comments
  1. Wow, impressing and that totally fits in today’s news about Rome, capitol of Italy. Every Roman is stuck in traffic (statistically) about 260 hours per year, that means: 11 days per year!

  2. Awesome mashup, but I’m worried it encourages and relies on people Tweeting from their car – which in most circumstances (unless you pull over and stop to do it) is illegal in Australia and probably other places – and dangerous.

    POD

  3. Peter – most of the tweets come in fact from RTA (Road Transport Authority, see the screenshots in the post, 131940 is the phone number you can call to report traffic incidents) with other tweets being ca. 30% of the information displayed to the end users. So assuming RTA is happy with twitter, we have nothing to worry about.

    We do not encourage people to tweet – actually unless you’re an experienced twitter user, you don’t know how to contribute – the application doesn’t tell you how to do it. We also do not require people (drivers) to tweet from their car (therefore relying on GPS info from their twitter clients) – as long as they mention the location in text.

    We recently made it to top Free Apps in the Navigation category – hitting over 4000 downloads after 6 weeks of being available in the App Store.

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