I delivered pizzas in the mid-80s: big northeastern pizzeria, rich suburb, and I was good.
Delivering then was a bit like those stories you read about how they test people to drive London cabs: they have to be able to get from anywhere to anywhere off the top of their head.
Each of us had our secret routes, or routes we thought were good that others thought were crazy, or techniques for dealing with rush hour traffic.
Today, Tyler Cowen sent me to a Reddit thread on the most amazing technology that no one knows about. And I found this:
My favourite example is Google Map's traffic data.
It's crowdsourced by looking at how fast Google Maps users are going whilst they're travelling and comparing these to the long/medium term averages. The scale of data processing required for this, and doing it for such a huge number of roads, and in real time, is unbelievable; especially when you can see the indicator on the overlay turn red within ten metres of the back of a queue. Unreal.
I'm a delivery driver who often uses Google maps and there is one stretch of road which can oftentimes be used as a shortcut when driving through a certain area in my town, but Google maps would never instruct me to go down that piece of road. Over time, I noticed that my frequent usage of the road while having Google maps open has now prompted Google to instruct anyone with Google maps to use my shortcut. [emphasis added]
Now, as an economist, I think that what we have here is a zero profits condition on travel time: Google Maps is going to arbitrage away and difference between quicker and slower routes between two locations.