Free real time traffic and congestion maps using phone GPS data crowd sourcing in Costa Rica
Instant information on construction delays, road closures and traffic conditions is especially helpful when traveling in Costa Rica because there aren’t that many ways to get from point A to point B. Going around a landslide could easily add five or six hours to a two hour drive.
Seven years after it was first available in the U.S. google now provides free information about traffic on major roads and highways in Costa Rica by collecting information on how fast phones are moving along the route (details on how it works).
Instant updates on jams and slow moving vehicles are available on smartphones or on the internet using this map from WAZE and now you can even use WAZE in offline mode so you don’t have to pay for international roaming cell phone data.
Check traffic congestion before you head to the airport or make a trip to the beach.
Coverage in Costa Rica
For crowd-sourcing to be effective you need a crowd contributing data in real time and while cell phones are almost ubiquitous in Costa Rica there still aren’t that many people with GPS enabled phones. In 2014 Google bought the WAZE app which is the most popular navigation tool in Costa Rica and allows users to pin comments on police speed traps, construction, accidents and other delays. It’s filled in a lot of the gaps, but not all.
There are some stretches of a number of Costa Rican roads that have no cell service which means they are effectively invisible to WAZE traffic updates.
There could be 500 cars sitting perfectly still on the Guapiles Highway in the mountains of Braulio Carrillo and WAZE would show no problem because none of the phones have signal to update WAZE. It will be interesting to see how good the construction delay info is based only on users comments instead of phone data when a Chinese construction firm begins work to expand that road to four lanes in 2018 until 2021.
The transit police maintain a web based list of updates which includes landslides, washed out bridges and other delays/closures on major routes. They do a good job of keeping the road information up to date for a few major routes but unfortunately the website is frequently down for days or weeks at a time.
It is in Spanish. You can try dropping the url into Google Translate or another Spanish to English app but they use a lot of vernacular and usually the English version is less intelligible than the original.