Bangalore. There is a perpetual competition going on amongst all our beloved metro cities in India. The competition doesn’t just focus at imbibing the good things amongst these major melting pots of cities, but also at aping what went wrong. The infamous 26th July deluge that brought Mumbai to a standstill around a decade ago was so severe that just the date sent shivers down the spine of each Mumbaikar. However, Bangalore didn’t want the 26th of July just for Mumbai, but for them too. This urge for equivalence led Bangalore to come to a standstill on the 26th of this year. This was not because of any rains, but because of a bus strike.
The scientists at Google got off track too regarding how to represent the traffic woes on their map. A committee of data scientists and designers decided to deep dive in the problem. Their brief -‘Coming up with a deeper red.’
Abraham, the lead data scientist of the group who went to Bangalore to review the problem couldn’t reach the area of the problem. Which is when it struck upon him that, that is in fact the problem. “The numbers are like nothing we’ve seen before. We needed to introduce larger variables that could accommodate the expected time that each person traveling for work in Bangalore would endure,” says Abraham. It eventually came to the interaction designers to think of including dedicated call to action buttons for women delivering babies on the way, for people missing their flights after cancelling the initially missed flights and rebooking newer flights, for people out of fuel just to stay in the jam, and so on.
The visual designers were facing this big question in front of them, to develop a colour that is of a deeper shade of red than the darkest one being used today. Priyanka, a lead visual designer at Google Maps division insists to increase the black content in the existing red. “There are already three shades of dark red being used for depicting terrible traffic based on the density of the jam, the only way is to add a little more black and get a darker red.”
This was when Dr. Pooja was called in. She gave a gist of the resolution of colours that a human eye can distinguish amongst and the incremental shade of black in that red, so that it could be differentiated between the previous red was decided. This led to a unanimous conclusion of taking black as the direct colour which would simplify the decision and would be easily distinguishable.
Dr. Abraham jumped in at this conclusion and then postulated that the future for Bangalore would hold even more traffic. He states, “We cannot go with black right now as the future is bound to see further increase in traffic. There should at least be 4 more possible shades of red to accurately represent the level of traffic on the roads of Bangalore. Now how does the design team come up with a new colour is their prerogative. Even if they have to invent a new colour, they should do it because it is the need of the day.” He slyly smiles away and goes back in his car after finishing his thali with filter coffee while stuck in the traffic jam.
There are new and upcoming businesses coming up immediately at places where such jams are observed, so it is high time the committee at Google comes up with an appropriate way of representing these traffic snarls so that at least these businesses flourish.