Commuter Feed: Good idea, not ready for prime time yet

Commuter Feed: Good idea, not ready for prime time yet

At first glance Commuter Feed seems like a good idea. It harnesses the power of Twitter to get regular commuters to update traffic conditions in real-time as they travel from their mobile phones.

Big companies like Smartraveler have been doing this for a while using their own sensors and observers and police reports, but Commuter Feed is supposed to harness the power of “the social”, i.e. the great cloud of Web users.

Here’s the flaw though: It relies on people typing out messages on their phones while driving. This is a problem. There are enough inattentive drivers out there talking on their phones, we don’t need to add texting to the mix. Just recently we had a case locally of a guy who hit and killed a 12-year-old boy because the driver was texting on his phone.

Okay, if you’re stopped in traffic that’s not moving, it’s one thing, but if you’re moving even at a couple miles per hour, you’re too likely to be distracted enough to bump someone around you.

You could use a voice-to-text system like Jott, which I’ve used with success for note-taking and other application several times recently, but it’s not easy to follow the exact Twitter format that Commuter Feed demands from a voice prompt. I’ll have to experiment with it.

Commuter Feed is a good idea, but I would recommend that if you can’t use it with a voice-to-text system that you leave it your passengers or only send in the notice after you’re in the office. It’s too dangerous otherwise.

N.B. I have left feedback for the developers asking them to add integration with Jott.