Province releases mobile version at 511 anniversary

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by Morinville News Staff

Edmonton – A year after introducing the 511 Alberta road condition advisory website, the province is claiming 200 million hits from 1.2 million visitors and unveiling a new mobile version it says will help Albertans make safer travel decisions.

511 Alberta provides information on highway conditions, weather information, construction updates, incident reports, including detours and closures, ferry crossing times, national/provincial park information, and border-crossing wait times. The new app will provide the same.

The Honourable Wayne Drysdale, Alberta’s Transportation Minister, officially launched 511 Mobile at the 511 Alberta anniversary celebrations held Feb. 4.

The province believes the new mobile version of its 511.alberta.ca website provides a greatly enhanced version of the service that can be viewed on most mobile devices. A highlight of the new version is access to 511 Alberta’s more than 100 highway cameras. The mobile iteration includes a GPS function that can provide a user’s location on the 511 Alberta map when activated, allowing users to locate themselves in reference to the provincial highway network. It is believed this function will benefit travellers when they need assistance or need to report a collision.

But while the new service is being highly recommended to motorists, the government is making it clear when and how the app should be used. “While 511 Mobile makes it easier to access critical road information on the go, please keep in mind that using your mobile device while driving is illegal and extremely dangerous,” Drysdale said in a release Tuesday morning. “Motorists should invite their passengers to check 511 Mobile or pull over safely before checking it themselves.”

Regardless of who and how the website was accessed in its inaugural year, provincial statistics indicate particularly high activity during a severe snowstorm Mar. 20 and 21, 2013, as well as throughout June when the province experienced the worst flooding disaster in Canadian history. Website traffic spiked from 4,224 visitors June 19 to 52,880 on June 20 when the flood hit. That number rose to 81,159 the following day.

The province is looking to launch several new initiatives in the second year of the program, including additional content on the website, expanding the program’s use of social media, and strengthening partnerships with contractors, first responders and the RCMP.

The mobile service can be accessed at 511.alberta.ca. Users will be prompted as to whether they wish to use mobile or desktop versions of the service.

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