Lee Kelleher

Traffic Updates: RSS -> SMS

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Since moving down to Bristol, I have been subscribing to the Underscore mailing list – of which I’m guilty of non-participation. One of the threads today made me realise the potential of user empowerment using “Web 2.0” services and technologies.

The thread was called “RSS -> SMS“, Andy wrote:

After my wife took three hours to get to work this morning due to the M5 being shut, I’ve built a Yahoo pipe that takes the Highways Agency feed and filters it to be just the M5 traffic alerts.

I can set up the RSS reader on her phone to cosume the feed from the pipe but was wondering if anyone knew a simple and free way of converting the feed to text messages sent to he phone? (It’ll only be for a low volume of messages (less than one a day))

The suggestion of Twitter’s SMS notifications was made, utilising the (very good) twitterfeed service, (which I used for both RSB and BLB tweets).

The UK Traffic information is provided by the Highways Agency in RSS format – which was routed through Yahoo Pipes to filter items containing information about the M5.

It was later found out that there is already a dedicated RSS feed for the M5, thus making the Yahoo Pipes method redundant. However the issue here isn’t about the range of RSS feeds and knowing what do with them… it’s about everyday people using openly available data to provide useful personalised information.

Sure, it’s mostly web-savvy developers doing this at the moment – yet as the web technologies evolve, we’ll start to see more personalised services that anyone can use.

If you want to follow the M5 Traffic Information on Twitter, visit: http://twitter.com/UK_M5_Traffic