New projects aim to improve travel-time services

Two British projects are developing the most enhanced travel-time tools ever.

Mapumental and iGeolise have created similar services, both of which aim to make travel-time estimates more accurate by taking into consideration important factors, such as the frequency of various modes of public transport, average walking and driving speeds, key details of UK roads and the positions of stops and stations.

Currently, most mapping services base travel estimates "as the crow flies," by simply calculating the length of the straight line between two points; a method that has a number of shortcomings.

Mapumental currently offers only public transport travel-time maps, while iGeolise's services extend to road-based travel too. The latter won the UK Satellite Navigation Competition at the start of this month, and has already assisted TalkTalk in its search for a new location for its offices and the Guardian in its pursuit of a suitable event location. It also intends to eventually expand its services to Europe and the US.

According to a closed survey conducted by iGeolise, 79 per cent of consumers said they would prefer to search by journey time rather than distance.

However, both projects have had to battle against poor quality or badly presented data sets along the way. "The data that is put out has often not been collected without much or any thought that it would be used by third parties," Mapumental CEO, Tom Steinberg, told the BBC. "Typically this leads to the data containing ambiguities or apparently internal contradictions that take a lot of time to clean up."

Mapumental and iGeolise are still very young, but hold high hopes for the future. In reference to mapping behemoths Google, Nokia and Apple, Peter Lilley, co-founder of iGeolise, told the Guardian, "I would think those three would find it useful. When you're looking to travel somewhere, your main consideration really isn't distance – it's time. And they don't offer that."

Mapumental is set to launch Mapumental Property, a service aimed particularly at commuters, tomorrow.