Over two hours, that’s probably the average time we now spent waiting in the car to enter Singapore or vice-versa these days, and we all know how agonising it can be. With the festive season and school holidays coming up next month, there will be an expected 430,000 daily commuters at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, up from the normal daily commutes of 400,000 during the non-peak period.
We know the traffic is always bad in November and December, but the weekend crawl on any regular week now is just as terrible, and having spent over three to four hours waiting in the car was no longer unprecedented but the norm. So, if you are going through the Woodlands or Tuas checkpoints to Singapore (or Malaysia) for the year-end holidays, it’s highly advisable to check the traffic situation at both checkpoints before embarking on your journey.
An app way to avoid traffic jams at the Causeway & Second Link
为了减缓交通拥堵状况，近年来两地出现不少关于关卡路况的网站或应用程序，而大人此前最常派遣的「大内密探」非 OneMotoring.com 及 Checkpoint.sg 莫属。
曾饱受长达3小时车龙之苦的36岁大马籍自雇人士陆维翊（Hayden Lak）可说是过来人。自幼便乘搭校车往返新马两地念书的他，毕业后留新从事科技事业之余仍得每周三次穿梭长堤，逾20年的堵车经历让他不禁扪心自问，何不发挥自身专业，设计出能让两地通勤人士受惠的手机运用程序呢？「不得不说，打从2015年12月至今，Hayden 所推出的 Beat The Jam 真的搭救了不少痛恨堵车的朋友呀！」
Having braved the traffic at the Causeway for over two decades since our schooling days all the way to commuting daily for work, thousands (including yours truly) have taken it for granted, and the additional price we pay for the strong currency exchange, depending on which side of the Straits you are on LOL! It was only recently that we have multiple traffic monitoring websites such as OneMotoring.com and Checkpoint.sg that are used by commuters from both sides to get a sense of traffic situation of all major roads in and out of the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoint, but we couldn’t help but feel a “crystal ball” would serve our needs much better.
Meet Hayden Lak, a 36-year-old Anak Johor and entrepreneur who runs a tech business in Singapore and has been commuting to and fro for two decades. It was a big deal for the permanent resident, who lives in Johor with his parents and drives into Singapore for work about three times a week, and his experiences led him to create a Web application that charts traffic trends at the Causeway and Second Link since December 2015 to help drivers beat the queues.
What inspires Beat the Jam! mobile app?
在开始研发这款手机应用程序前，我总是会先上网查看关卡通道的监视画面，但从住家出发至关卡的30分钟路程里，新柔长堤或第二通的车龙其实早已慢慢形成而拥堵进而耽误行程。为此我在1个月内研发手机应用程序 Beat The Jam，从谷歌地图数据、兀兰关卡和第二通道的交通情况分析与预估困在车龙中的时间及车龙可能持续多久，以便更妥善地计划我的出行时间！
Before I came up with the app, I relied heavily on footage from roadside cameras showing current traffic conditions while at home, but by the time I reach the checkpoint in half an hour or so, the jam might have built up. Using traffic data obtained from Google, I designed and built the app in about a month to be an all-in-one traffic monitoring and analysis tool that provides comprehensive traffic information at the Causeway and 2nd Link so as to Beat the Jam!. Besides providing traffic data from google maps and traffic camera images, the app displays traffic trend forecasts that are derived from historical data, up to 6 days in advance so that I could plan my trip across the border in advance, choosing to avoid the projected peak hours.
How do you calculate the time to clear?
透过谷歌地图里的即时交通数据，Beat The Jam 可以随机生成一个路况图表，我们根据历史记录优化整个应用程序，力求将通关时间的精准度提升到将近80%，大幅度提高实用性！
The time to clear numbers under the ‘Today’ tab are obtained from google maps’ real-time traffic data. From my experience as a daily commuter, the actual time to clear a route can sometimes be higher, especially at the causeway, so the app accounted for this variance by providing a range. In addition, the app display how traffic is trending over the last 1 hour for each route.
Isn’t the traffic cameras good enough?
上网查看道路的监视画面虽能查看当下的路况，但却不能保证我们抵达该路段时依旧顺畅。为确保实时路况的准确性，Beat The Jam 也结合了谷歌地图和交通流量的数据分析为用户提供更完整的信息！
Think of the causeway traffic as a jigsaw puzzle, where the camera images are an important piece to the puzzle, but they don’t show us the full picture. Most notably, there aren’t any traffic cameras approaching the Johor customs, so by combining traffic camera images with google maps’ data and traffic trends, we’ll get the whole picture. Got it?
Isn’t Google Maps or Waze better?
谷歌地图、位智与 Beat The Jam 最大的分别在于我们并非全球定位系统，而是个一站式快速提供交通数据情况的手机应用程序，程序上的简易图像让人一目了然决定何时该出发或等待。
Google Maps and Waze are useful GPS navigation tools that provide relevant traffic information while you are on the roads. However, we wanted a quick way to find out the traffic conditions at the causeway while in office or at home, without needing to access these apps, so Beat the Jam! serves mainly as an all-in-one traffic monitoring and analysis tool rather than a GPS tool, and is intended to help us decide whether to cross the border or wait until the jam subsides.
Can you really “forecast” the traffic conditions for the next 7 days?
虽然我不是什么「预言家」，但我的应用程序会实时提取谷歌地图及新加坡陆路交通局（LTA）的数据进行分析，并与过去一周同一时段及过去3小时的数据进行比对，推算并预测未来3小时可能发生的路况。以此类推，应用程序就能根据历史记录推算未来24小时，甚至是未来7天的路况；日子久了，所搜集的数据越多，所推算的路况就越精准！不久的将来，我希望将 Beat the Jam 推广到其他地点：包括首都吉隆坡、槟城甚至泰国曼谷等饱受交通拥挤的城市！
The 3-hour forecast shows us the traffic trend from 7 days ago, 3 hours before and 3 hours after the current time. Compare it with today’s traffic trend over the last 3 hours to predict how traffic will play out in the next 3 hours.
For the 24-hour forecast, the chart shows the projected traffic trend for the entire day and suggests the peak hours to avoid, based on the peak hour threshold of 30 minutes. The historical data we use is indicated under the ‘Reference Data’ field. In addition, there’s also the projected traffic trend for the next 6 days for each route under the ‘Forecast’ tab.
Going forward, we hope this solution can also be applied to solve traffic congestions in Kuala Lumpur, the Penang bridges and even to other parts of the world!
And finally, will the app stays FREE forever?
I built the app as I wanted to help myself and everyone else. I’ve not ruled out charging for the use of the app, but for now, I just want people to use it so I can improve on it.
The app is still available for FREE download from the Apps Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android), and I am also working on some new ideas for the app so stay tuned for some exciting cool features and content coming your way!
Quick fire questions …
最不可或缺的手机应用程序 / Must-have apps on your mobile phone?
毋庸置疑，一定是Whatsapp、Safari浏览器和 Beat the Jam!（必须的）！
Whatsapp, Safari and Beat the Jam! (must-have)!
最喜欢的电脑或手机游戏 / Favourite computer/mobile game?
Lode Runner, I used to play it on my old Mac computer and it’s now available on the mobile phone!
每日必浏览的网站 / Favourite website?
Amazon, I could get some of the latest titles and gadgets that I can’t find locally
最爱不释手的电子产品 / Favourite gadget?
My iPhone, as I find it more user-friendly than Android phones
最上手的操作系统 / Mac or Windows?
Windows, I grew up using Windows even though I’m an iPhone user LOL!
最喜欢或最想到的国家 / Favourite countries?
Japan, and I can’t wait to visit South Africa for its safari and get up close with the wild lions and tigers!
最喜欢的美食 / Favourite local food?
Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh in JB and Founder Bak Kut Teh in Balestier, and I prefer mine more peppery.
最喜欢的饮料 / Favourite beverage?
I love my beer, can’t live without it. Currently, I’m very into stouts and the Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout is my favourite right now. You must check out Ice-Cold Beer in Singapore for its variety, and the fried chicken (har cheong gai) is worth dying for!
最值得推荐的餐厅 / Favourite restaurants?
首推位于新山Crystal Crown酒店二楼的的日本餐厅霧島酒藏和在新加坡位于山景道由意大利人经营的IO Italian Osteria餐厅；如有机会到日本东京，一定要到位于银座的Kyubey 久兵衛体验真正的日本“omakase”！
Kirishima Shuzou Japanese Restaurant in Crystal Crown JB Hotel and IO Italian Osteria in Hillview, Singapore and the best omakase I’ve had so far was from Kyubei in Tokyo, Japan!
如果能改变世界，我会选择 / If there’s one thing you can change in this world?
No more jam, so that I can relax and maybe focus on solving other problems (laughing).