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Idaho turning techie – ITD develops new 511 mobile app

This week the Idaho Transportation Department is releasing a new mobile app that aims to help Idaho travelers’ daily commute a little easier.

According to the ITD, the free 511 app will allow people to view the state’s road information including: road blocks, weather conditions, accidents, traffic congestion, and even live camera footage of certain regions throughout the state.

Basically, it’s all of the information you were able to get on its website, but you don’t have to jump online.

Included in the app is a section specifically designed for public transit.

Pocatello Regional Transit director Dave Hunt said they have been using a version of this app for the past three years, but due to all of its glitches, they only started advertising it to the public only a couple of weeks ago.

“This system would give you both map and schedule information,” Hunt said. “We get calls with people asking about what their route should be or when the next bus will arrive. And now those are things they can look up independently on an app through the 511 system.”

Although the app takes some of the pressure off of PRT, that doesn’t solve everything.

Hunt said he and his crew prefer to not use the app in case some sort of road diversion were to occur since the app is not available in real-time technology…yet.

“I think we have more ready information on the ground and it does literally change minute by minute. So, we have radio communication between our buses and our dispatch, for instance.”

ITD maintenance foreman Chris Chapman already downloaded the app less than a day it launched.

He said it takes between 10-to-15 minutes for the information to update on the app.

“It will keep updating in the future as we develop more technology,” Chapman said. “Our sites will update this so we will have instant updating.”

However, he said it’s a great tool for not only travelers, but for ITD as well.

“We can look and see what other areas have for their roads and maybe if their roads are better than we can have another crew ship down to help us.”

He also mentioned how, not only is the technology changing, but so is the efficiency in which the department can handle rough road conditions.

“It’s advancing quickly and it’s going to make our jobs easier. I mean, we can go in and look at the cameras now and see what’s going on in Burley and expect that storm to be here in 45 minutes and be ready for the storm as well as ahead of it.”

Hunt said right now with the transit portion of the 511 app, the information only shows where the bus should be instead of where it is at, currently.

He said he anticipates seeing each bus stop providing a number that could be keyed into the smart phone app which will then give people up-to-speed information about that bus route.

For a link to the app site for more information, visit the ITD website here:

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