Despite the fact that London is arguably one of the most technologically advanced cities in the western world it doesn’t take much to bring it to its knees – as anyone who has been unlucky enough to have endured the rush-hour traffic jams that plague our beloved capital will tell you.
It would appear that all of the transport links in the world can’t prevent gridlock when the masses flood in (and out) of London, which leaves little option for travellers than to rely on erratic and skittish traffic reports that trickle through every now and then via the radio.
LondonCam attempts to eradicate this issue by giving you access to over 80 different cameras situated near major thoroughfares throughout the capital, the idea being that you can view the current traffic situation with your own eyes and judge if an alternative route might be in order.
The application divides the 80+ cameras into five different regions: North, South, East, West and Central. Within each of these areas are different still-image feeds for notable roads and junctions. Clicking a road will present an static image snapped by a nearby camera.
Although the image isn’t live, most of the cameras available via the app are updated every few minutes or so – some are even refreshed every 20 seconds.
This is all very well if you’re interested in seeing what’s afoot on Oxford Street at 12 in the morning but for practical daily use you’ll want to investigate LondonCam’s ‘My Route’ option.
Using this feature you can construct your route to and from work, creating what is effectively a ‘favourites list’ of cameras. With the route complete you then flick through each camera at will, thus ensuring you have a good idea of how fraught the upcoming journey is likely to be.
LondonCam is another excellent example of how the iPhone has the potential to completely revolutionise our everyday lives; to have seamless access to so many different cameras in the palm of your hand is astonishing and it could be argued that this app is infinitely more useful than traditional traffic reports because you can see firsthand what’s occurring on your intended route.
There are some niggles, but these are generally outside the power of the developer to rectify. We noticed that some of the feeds were abnormally slow to update, whereas others went blank for short periods before reappearing.
This is clearly an issue with the service provided by London’s Department of Transport and not the actual LondonCam application, but it can be frustrating all the same.
LondonCam continues to evolve. It’s now in its forth iteration, with the My Route feature being the most recent addition. With a few more embellishments it could become truly essential – and then there’s the potential for BirminghamCam, ManchesterCam, LiverpoolCam…the list is endless.
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Platform: iPhone/iPod touch
Developer: Ian Smith