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What’s The 511? New San Diego Traffic App Unveiled By SANDAG

Reported by Katie Schoolov

SANDAG unveiled a new app Friday that provides real-time traffic information for commuters on the I-15. Funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, it will use text-to-speak to give users alerts of upcoming accidents. Video journalist Katie Schoolov says it’s called 511 San Diego, and it’s the first of its kind in the country.

You’re driving home on Interstate 15. All of a sudden, your phone tells you to get off the freeway and re-enter three miles down the road.

What you don't know is there’s an accident two miles ahead. What you do know is you avoided a traffic jam.

That’s the vision of the San Diego Association of Government's new app, which will use text-to-speech to alert users. It’s called 511 San Diego and it’s the first of its kind in the country.

SANDAG’s principal technology program manager James Dreisbach-Towle hopes it will prevent more accidents, too.

“I think it will improve safety," he said. "If we can proactively push messages out to drivers in their vehicles, that there’s an accident ahead and not only rely on changeable message signs on the freeway to give early and advance warning, yes I think it will promote safety.”

The app is fed information from a new integrated corridor management system — or ICM. It uses existing sensors and cameras to gather traffic information along a 20-mile stretch of Interstate-15 — from just north of state Route 52 to Route 78.

“The whole idea of the ICM is to keep your trip reliable, day-in and day-out, no matter if there’s congestion, if there’s an accident, or what is going on, so that we have alternatives and so the corridor works as a whole, works better than a sum of its parts,” Dreisbach-Towle said.

Once the app proves successful for commuters on I-15, SANDAG hopes to expand the program to all other San Diego freeways. And the U.S. Department of Transportation — which funded the app — may eventually expand it all over the country.

San Diego 511 is free and available to download now in the Android and Apple stores.

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