Urban congestion levels from the last 3 years, as measured by TomTom’s traffic data from 416 countries worldwide.
More congested roadways bring with them a host of issues, including ever-increasing travel times. It's no wonder then, that both commuters and commercial drivers are seeking solutions that predict travel times and find more efficient routes to their destinations. With rising congestion in mind, travel time accuracy is more important than ever – whether you want to arrive home in time for dinner after a day at the office or if you’re delivering urgent medical supplies to a hospital a day’s journey away.
Real-time traffic: the first piece in the travel time puzzle
In order to predict accurate travel times and estimated times of arrival (ETAs), you need to know the road ahead – quite literally. And at TomTom, we’ve made that the center of our business. Every day, we gather more than 61 billion anonymous datapoints from our network of more than 660 million connected GPS devices. We use this to update our real-time traffic service every 30 seconds, providing drivers with the freshest information on pretty much any route, covering more than 70 million driving hours a day in all.
But real-time data isn’t always enough – especially if you are looking to calculate your arrival time for longer trips, and if you are planning journeys hours or even days in advance. Look at it this way: You’re planning to drive from Paris to Brussels, meaning you have an approximately 3.5-hour drive in front of you. Does it help you to know how bad traffic is in Brussels right now, if you’re going to be there in a couple of hours – when traffic will most likely have changed significantly?
For routing engines to calculate travel times and predict ETAs with true accuracy, they need something more than real-time traffic information. That’s where historical data and TomTom Speed Profiles come in.
The secret sauce of travel time calculations
At TomTom, we’ve been collecting real-time traffic information for more than a decade. We’ve used this information to build a massive historical traffic database, complete with average travel times and speeds on individual road segments, for every day and time of the week and even per direction of traffic. It's this treasure trove of traffic and speed information that forms the basis of TomTom Speed Profiles: the secret sauce behind our incredibly accurate travel time and ETA calculations.
By analyzing typical driving speed patterns, TomTom Speed Profiles enables routing engines in navigation applications to calculate accurate journey times based on real measured speeds – ensuring drivers get the optimal time-dependent route recommendation. TomTom Speed Profiles delivers typical speeds, such as those observed in everyday rush hours or in free-flow traffic at quieter times, while real-time traffic data covers unforeseen speeds and delays, such as those caused by a one-off traffic accident. Put together, this historical and real-time data allows routing engines to make highly precise arrival time predictions and even suggest alternative routes or times to travel.