Jakarta Traffic should be added to the certainties of life like death and taxes. It’s the number one thing all visitors and locals complain about and the bad news is it isn’t going away. The way I look at it there are three things you can do about it: 1. Never leave the house, 2. Move, or 3. Accept it and deal with it the best you can. I don’t know about you, but I do need to go to the office once in a while and I don’t plan on moving just yet. So this week I’ll look at a few ways you can use the tech in your pockets to help manage Jakarta’s traffic mess like a pro.
Most developed cities have real-time traffic information that is fed into Google Maps and is conveniently displayed over a nice map [photo 1]. Unfortunately this feature isn’t available for Jakarta – or perhaps it is but it isn’t shared with anyone so we will have to get a little creative. One useful alternative is to follow the Jakarta traffic police on Twitter. Yes, they have an account and it’s awesome. [photo 2] And it works on just about all devices that have an internet connection, too. Just follow @TMCPoldaMetro and get ready for a steady stream of real-time updates from all over Jakarta. Since it covers the entire capital you have to search on your area to see if there are reports. [photo 3]
The numbers are impressive: 350,000 followers and 60,000 tweets since they set it up in September 2009. It’s all in Bahasa Indonesia, but the native Twitter clients on iPhone and other devices has a neat built in “translate” feature that somehow manages to get the point across as well as help you improve your vocabulary. [photo 4]
The second trick is my favourite if you can get it to work: CCTV traffic cameras. There are dozens placed all over the city and when they are online they are actually pretty helpful. There aren’t any native apps I have found so you will have to point your mobile browser to www.lewatmana.com – it’s locally-hosted (and therefore loads quickly even over slow cell connections) and very user friendly. Just find the areas near you and bookmark them to get a bird’s eye view of the traffic conditions. [photos 5,6,7] Once you get used to it these little cameras will save you lots of time and frustration. And I am always looking for new ways to figure ways to avoid the traffic so if you have a different solution just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll review it for a future column.