Microsoft and Inrix launched services that will help drivers avoid long traffic lines by providing data for example about side streets.

Microsoft currently provides information on its Live Search Maps with a new system that includes data about side streets, and Inrix introduced a traffic alert system across the U.S.

Inrix feeds its traffic alert system with data from highway that were installed by the state departments of transportation which is combined with other data it collects with its commercial vehicle fleet.

Microsoft's traffic system, called ClearFlow, combines data about highway traffic, from sensors, with information about nearby side streets, helping drivers to better understand the routes or highways that may be crowded.

The system also provides information about the closest street to the highway, number of lanes on the street, kinds of shops near the street and number of intersections that occur per a mile.

Microsoft initially used the traffic technology in Seattle but has now expanded to 72 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Microsoft said that the system in Seattle re-computes data about 820,000 street segments every after a few minutes.

ClearFlow was incorporated into some existing features on Microsoft's Live Search Maps page; for example, live search Maps already allow users choose to receive directions based on traffic, a feature that was enhanced with ClearFlow technology.

Microsoft said it has plans of improving its Windows Mobile offering to accommodate ClearFlow technology which is currently only accessible from a computer.

Inrix said MapQuest also has plans to offer its customers in the U.S., with traffic alerts, enabling people to receive alerts on their mobile phones.