How an Airborne Traffic Reporter Relies on Tech

We all know that feeling of frustration when a route that would normally take 20 minutes turns out to take almost an hour because of traffic. When you are trying to navigate the best way to go, Jim Ryan is there for you. Jim, an airborne traffic reporter for WMAQ-TV and CLTV in Chicago, and a long time Verizon customer, shares his experience with using technology to help you navigate the fastest route home.

Q: What technology do you use when you’re reporting from the helicopter and on camera?

A: Mapping technology and weather apps are key when I report from the helicopter. From the air, you get an entirely different perspective of the roads and expressways. Pairing my knowledge of Chicago’s grid system with a variety of mapping apps allows me to intelligently inform viewers of developing traffic or a breaking news situation and have a positive impact on their commute by routing them around it, keeping them informed and ultimately saving them time.

Q: How important is your cell phone when flying around the city?

A: I need to be active via social media. Posting updates and photos in real time is crucial to the media outlet. Network reliability also makes it easier for me to track weather and always know that I am connected. I’m a long time Verizon customer, and have always appreciated the service I get wherever I am.

Q: Do you have a favorite moment during one of your assignments?

A: In 2010, I flew over Wrigley Field on the morning of the Chicago Cubs season home opener. In Chicago, that day basically doubles as an unofficial holiday and all day party. It was incredible to see crowds filling Wrigleyville neighborhood streets prior to 7 a.m. This summer, I’ve had the opportunity to fly over Wrigley a number of times, and it’s been fascinating to document the progression of the ongoing Wrigley Field renovation project. I remember flying over Soldier Field once in Chicago several hours before the start of a concert during U2’s “360” tour. It was fascinating to see that immense stage structure from the air before fans entered the stadium.

Q: Any insider tips on how to avoid rush hour traffic?

A: I get this all the time. I would honestly say there is really no way around it. If you can take back roads, those may be better. Other than leaving before or after peak times, it’s sort of inevitable.