[编辑 Editor 刘大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer Various]
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
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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 …
Must-have apps on your mobile phone?
Whatsapp, Safari and Beat the Jam! (must-have)!
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!
Amazon, I could get some of the latest titles and gadgets that I can’t find locally
My iPhone, as I find it more user-friendly than Android phones
Mac or Windows?
Windows, I grew up using Windows even though I’m an iPhone user LOL!
Japan, and I can’t wait to visit South Africa for its safari and get up close with the wild lions and tigers!
Favourite local food?
Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh in JB and Founder Bak Kut Teh in Balestier, and I prefer mine more peppery.
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!
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).