Utah launches 511 travel phone service

| 12/19/2001

Utah travelers now have a new way to get traffic updates. The state debuted a voice-activated 511 travel service line on Monday. The 511 service uses voice recognition software to retrieve and translate information from the Internet.

Using a cellular phone, truckers and travelers alike, can keep up to date on travel and traffic conditions. Using the spoken word, the service dispenses driving directions, weather reports, sports scores, or any commonly sought information from the Internet.

Utah was one of six states selected to launch a 511 service after the Federal Communications Commission designated 511 as a nationwide number for travel information. The 511 systems are a public service and are free. Utah has contracted with Tellme, a Mountain View, CA-based company to run the service. Tellme is one of several free, voice-activated services that use "voice portals" or voice-recognition software to retrieve and translate information from the Internet.

Tellme launched a voice-activated telephone service last summer. It allows people to call a toll-free number and say one or two words to hear information on topics including stock quotes, weather, movies and driving directions.

Current information on Utah's system includes traffic congestion, construction and road closures and hours of operation for public transit. The state hopes to include information about Salt Lake International Airport, Greyhound Bus Lines and transit agencies throughout the state.