Today, Google announced a significant expansion of its ability to warn users of crowded public transportation in advance. This feature was originally launched in June 2019, covering about 200 cities around the world, using user report data similar to Waze to detect and predict overcrowded trains and buses. According to today’s announcement, Google is expanding the initial 200 cities to (eventually) more than 10,000 transit agencies in 100 countries.
In addition to expanding forecasts of overcrowding to more cities, Google is also making them more detailed in New York and Sydney. In these cities, users will see the degree of congestion in individual train cars, not just the general congestion on bus routes. This function is used in conjunction with the data provided by the transportation agency itself, and Google said it plans to expand the capacity to more cities soon.
Unsurprisingly, Google Maps’ public transportation forecasts are not only based on data directly reported by users. They use artificial intelligence models trained on this data.
“We apply world-class anonymization technology and differential privacy techniques to Location History Data to make sure your data remains private and secure,” the advertisement points out, but we should note that attempts to anonymize location data often fail.
Google said its public transportation crowd report lets users know whether their bus routes may “have lots of open seats, hit full capacity, or be anywhere or in between,” allowing passengers to make more informed decisions – “hop on board or wait for another train.” In New York and Sydney, the program is testing deeper levels of information, providing real-time information about overcrowding,” right down to the transit car level.” Today’s announcement also pointed out that throughout the United States. In the United States, traffic is less congested after the morning rush hour and before the afternoon rush hour. This information is unlikely to surprise people who regularly use public transportation.
The map has also updated its timeline function to include public transportation travel history, letting users know how long has passed and how far they have traveled by public transportation, walking, driving, etc. If you don’t like this feature or don’t trust Google’s “world-class anonymization technology”, you can completely turn off location history on your Android device. (Disabling location history will have a significant impact on carpooling, weather and map applications, etc., and may cause some applications to be completely unusable.)
Finally, Google also provides more review options for restaurants in the United States, offering new tips to share information about meal prices and whether you receive takeaways and home delivery. The new comment options are available on iOS and Android, and Google said they will eventually be available to businesses other than restaurants.