Last night, I was driving home from my sister’s place in the east bay, and after checking Google Maps and seeing all green roads (i.e. no traffic), I decided to take 880/Bay Bridge to get back to SF. Little did I know it was green because there was no traffic on the bridge (due to the closure). Had I known beforehand, I would have saved a full hour. In a moment of tragic comedy (okay, it was not that bad, but good thing I had company), Caltrans decided to alert me after I passed the traffic-filled toll plaza on the San Mateo Bridge that the “Bay Bridge is closed, seek alt route.” Thanks.
I’m not alone when I say I’m often running late to lunches and social gatherings. Or oftentimes I get delayed when I need to travel out of the office for a meeting. The one thing that’s constant in all these situations – my phone. My mobile device always knows where I am. My calendar always knows where I should be. Why can’t these two merge?
Now, I know this is difficult on the iPhone since there are no background apps, making it difficult to keep updating location (though some folks have found workarounds) . But on Android, this should be relatively easy. With the proliferation of LBS, my phone knows where I am at all times. It could tell, for example, that if it’s 8:45 AM and I am more than 15 miles away (or there’s traffic) from my 9 AM calendar appointment location, that I will be late. It could then send a text/email to the other attendees (or at least the organizer). Little late to dinner? Perhaps an integration to OpenTable. Flight late, meaning I can work later? An integration to TripIt would be help. Yes, many folks have admins to help with this, but it really should be automated. Last night, my phone clearly could have known I was heading home to SF via the Bay Bridge, and alerted me of the closure (the news was all over Twitter, which I unfortunately did not check before leaving).
None of this is ground-breaking, or extremely tough to do. Google is probably best positioned to do this, but perhaps there’s a startup already hard at work (I hope so). I’m looking forward to the day when all these services are combined and I can comfortably know I’m being alerted. In the meantime, good luck to Caltrans on the repairs, and all commuters who usually take the Bay Bridge daily.