The End of Not Knowing

I had a very curious flash of insight the other day. Not a revelation as such but one of those moments that happens a thousand times a week and just occasionally you see the right juxtaposition to make you realise what just happened.

I was driving my family to Glasgow. We came around a bend in the motorway and, slightly abruptly, met the tail end of a traffic queue. It was abrupt because there were no signs indicating any roadworks. When you meet a queue before you see the signs, you naturally start to think you're in for a bit of a wait. Everyone wants to know just how long.

The driver of the car in the lane next to me started edging his car towards the centre line, craning to peer down the queue and see how far off the obstruction was.

Without even really thinking about it, I slid open my iPhone that was mounted on the dashboard playing music. I fired up the TomTom app, picked my destination. In a couple of seconds, the phone beeped to show that the obstruction was 1.1 miles from my current position and that the delay to my journey would be approximately four minutes.

It's not that GPS navigation systems with live traffic data are particularly new; it was just the contrast between my experience and the frustrated, anxious driver in the next lane that made me think about this. It felt like I had a sixth sense: data.