Time is money and we have to drive for work, for deliveries, for meetings etc. The travel time is calculated and it gives you a constant update on the arrival time. Unfortunately there are traffic jams and accidents as well. The government or the owner of a toll-way will give accurate info on the data they have collected in many forms. You hear it on the radio, you see it on your GPS, on web sites etc. Some are displaying this information on data driven presentations like e.g. at a gas station or a toll booth. Data driven presentations are created by DataPoint; an add-on for Microsoft PowerPoint to display live information. We will show you how easy it is to display real time highway traffic information in a presentation or slide show. You can do this in less than 3 minutes.
Establish the connection to the data provider
Click DataPoint in the PowerPoint menu.
Click the List button of the Connections group.
Select the RSS node and click Add connection.
Find a proper information provider service in the area. Mostly this information is exchanged in XML or RSS format. In this example we will use the data of the Highways Agency of the UK government. At the URL field place this url: http://hatrafficinfo.dft.gov.uk/feeds/rss/UnplannedEvents.xml.
Other categories of events or areas can be found at this page of the UK Highways Agency.
Set for automatic updates
Now, set the data refresh rate to some 300 seconds or 5 minutes. Check the guidelines of the data provider on what is allowed and what limitations there are. Some providers limit the number of daily calls. Click OK to save the connection. I click on the connection that was added to the RSS node and give it a proper name. The user will see a preview of the traffic data on the form.
Click OK to close the connections form. Now, we have set up the data connection and now we will show how to use this information on a slide. Bind this traffic data to a normal PowerPoint text box. First, draw a new text box on the slide and format it the way we like. A given font, font size, color, etc and set the text box to its maximum size on the slide.
Assign data to text box
Then choose DataPoint and click the Text box button. The default connection here is already fine because, we only have one connection in the presentation. Set the column to Title and leave the row at 1.
On this form, click to open the Texts tab and set a replacement text at the Non-existing row field. We use e.g. ‘No traffic information currently available!’ as text. So this field is linked to the first data row. When there is no data available at the data provider, then no data rows will be present in DataPoint. With this replacement text we can signal that there are no traffic congestions known in the system.
Click OK to bind this dynamic data field to the PowerPoint text box.
Now, we will do the same with another text box and choose to display the Description field for more information.
The presentation is now ready to display the first traffic record, with title and description.
Display a slide per traffic info or incident
If the user wants to display all records on one slide, click Scrolling in the DataPoint menu, check Enabled, leave the step size at 1 (to scroll 1 record at a time) and increase the step time a bit to 12 seconds. This will give the reader enough time to read all the information. Click OK to close.
Set up kiosk slide show mode for continuous traffic information
The final step is to go to Set Up Slide Show in the Slide show menu option. Set the Show type to Browsed at a kiosk for continuous play back.