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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Creative People - Profile 8: TRAFFIC BUTTER:The Lagos Traffic Updates Twitter Service

Hi folks. Today I am glad to announce that we are continuing our series on Creative people. In the 'studios' today (I just couldn't resist saying that) we have a young man whose unique idea about providing solutions for Lagos road users has earned him a robust following on Twitter and increasing recognition in Nigerian society. The aim of this series as you may already know is to showcase the creativity and innovation of people all around us who are using their talents, brains and potentials to make a difference. This is our 8th profile so if you haven't read the previous 7 please track back and catch up on a lot of inspirational stuff. 


What is your (real) name? 

My name is Uche Okafor

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a Nigerian. I am from the east and an Economics grad of Covenant University.

So why Traffic Butter?

Well, @trafficbutter was born out of my need to deal with the problem I was having with the crazy traffic I experienced everyday from the Island back to my home on the mainland. Not knowing where there was traffic or why there was traffic or what the best alternative routes were, was always the worst part of those seemingly endless trips back home everyday. You got into the car and you resigned yourself to fate. Sadly, most days, fate was pretty mean.
So I woke up in the wee hours of one morning to use the convenience and the idea for @trafficbutter dropped into my mind. I chased it down promptly. This was in 2010.

Till today, people often wonder why I picked the name TRAFFICBUTTER? My thinking was: Since it is mostly either BUTTER OR JAM, and I hate traffic JAMS; I decided to pick the converse: traffic BUTTER. Pretty cool huh?

Yeah I admit it is. What is it all about? 

Well, @TrafficButter is best defined by this: "Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno". That is latin for: "One for all, all for one ". It is a Traffic Information network. A sort of peer-to-peer network of people who crowdsource traffic information by contributing traffic updates as well as using those contributed by others. It makes me happy to see that @Trafficbutter provided the inspiration for other innovations such as the radio station and other traffic handles / apps out there. It also makes me happy to see that @Trafficbutter has stayed focused on its main assignment and resisted the temptation to become an anything-goes network where all kinds of information is disseminated.

Is Twitter your main platform? 

Yes. Given the conversational nature of Twitter, it is the main platform. But @Trafficbutter started out on facebook and still ports to facebook. The updates are also used by a few radio stations too.

Cognito Studios is a platform for showcasing ideas and inspiring works of art, design, photography and creativity. Inspiration is what we try to feed on and give out. So what inspires you?

I'm inspired by all the ordinary people out there doing extraordinary things to make our lives better. Especially those in the technology space.

How do you keep it all together? (Work/life balance?) 

Well, at this stage of my life, its difficult to draw a line between work and life. They merge constantly. I have a few vices tho: Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Manchester United.

What's the best feedback you have heard about @TrafficButter?

Its hard to pick a best one now. Too many people have said too many nice things. But for me, every THANK YOU from people who the service helps, feels like an Oscar Award plus a Grammy Award plus a Shorties Award rolled into one for me. This is my personal best feedback. This is all that matters to me. Making people happy.

Where will traffic butter be in the next 5 - 10 years?

Certainly not in a traffic jam on the 3rd Mainland bridge. An app is most likely. Covering multiple African Cities, by the grace of God.

What else do you have up your sleeves?(any other genius ideas?)

My arms, first and foremost. I'm working on a few ideas to help reduce / solve the problem of missing persons. Socially impactful ideas are on the front-burner for me at this time.

That's really great. Favorite hangouts?

Ikeja shopping mall (multiple places there)

Most important thing you own? (you can't be caught without)

My blackberry.

Team mates? (people you love to work with in this business)

Daniel and everyone who contributes traffic updates and other useful info to the mix.

In a few words, tell our readers why they should follow you on Twitter and spread the word? 

Well, like I said before: "One for all, all for one". We are here to help each other. Follow @trafficbutter on twitter to get free traffic updates and security alerts in Nigeria. It will save you time and money. It could also save your life or another person's. I look forward to welcoming you to the family.

Thanks a million for taking the time out to answer our questions. It has been truly inspirational. You may think about extending the service to Abuja one of these days because Abuja roads are becoming congested and more and more traffic jams are springing up daily. I daresay we want butter! Not jams! 

So dear readers, hope you were inspired. Drop a comment to let us know what inspires you most about @trafficbutter. Is it the fact that a young man desires to generate ideas that help society? Or the creativity behind the whole concept? Feel free to share your ideas.

While you are at it, follow Traffic Butter and Cognito Studios on Twitter and 'Like' our pages on Facebook to stay connected with more inspirational and 'traffic buttering' stuff!!!