The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) undertook a ‘jam hunt analysis’, using six popular mobile apps and GPS devices to analyze the accuracy in reporting traffic congestion and incident data.
The following devices were used:
- TomTom PND: GO LIVE 2535M
- Garmin PNDs: Nuvi 1690 (SIM), Nuvi 3490 (HD), Nuvi 1695 (SIM) and Nuvi 3590 (HD), all using Nokia’s HERE Traffic
- TomTom App: Version 1.14
- Google App: Version 1.1.6
- Inrix App: Version 4.5.1
The “jam hunt analysis“ was performed by two test vehicles equipped with all of the navigation devices and apps. Each vehicle then drove through a total of approximately 165 traffic jams. The information reported on each system was recorded on video and coded into statistics on the accuracy of each real time traffic service.
“By driving through the same traffic jams with each device simultaneously, our study identified the accuracy of each GPS system in reporting congestion, with varying results across the board,” said Bruce M. Belzowski, Assistant Research Scientist from the University of Michigan. “Overall, TomTom’s device and app reported the most accurate traffic information.”
The results can been seen in the table below (full report available at the end of the article).
While the benchmark has been made with a very scientific approach, one can however make two comments about the benchmark.
First the tests have been performed uniquely the Detroit area. a traffic provider can be better here and worst there based on its number of probes and other local specificities. The same test in another U.S. metropolitan area could possibly provide different results.
Second it is clear that the Garmin devices (with Nokia traffic) perform poorly in the test, however there are reasons to that. The first one is that the two devices Nuvi 1690 and Nuvi 1695 are outdated, they have been launched late 2009 and late 2010 respectively.
As it comes to the more recent NUVI 3490 and 3590 they both use HD Radio as communication technology which has more limitations than the cellular technology used in the TomTom PND or the 3G connection of the smatphones running the mobile apps in the test.