RealTime IT News

Traffic Control System for Mobile Phones

[Berlin, GERMANY] To better control the flow of traffic, extensive and reliable information on the routes of individual drivers and the current traffic situation is needed. In the past two years, scientists from Braunschweig and Berlin working on a project for the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium f|r Bildung und Forschung, or BMBF) have developed and successfully tested a method of automatically recording such information using a normal mobile phone. The total cost of the project has amounted to 3.4 million Deutschmarks (US $ 1.5 Million), of which 2.1 million Deutschmarks (US $ 0.9 Millionen) was provided by the BMBF.

The method is based on the so-called TeleTravel System (TTS), a technical system that consists of conventional hardware components and newly developed software components. A pilot study proved both the technical feasibility of the system as well as the acceptance of the system by drivers.

The collection of travel data from drivers, such as starting and ending points, routes, beginnings and ends, means of transport, and travel purposes, takes place by way of a system consisting of widely available commercial technical devices. Mobile phones and normal electronic data processing systems are integrated to form a complete system which enables the collection of traffic data through an intelligent software application. The data is in part collected automatically, simply by carrying along a mobile phone that is turned on, and it is in part collected through manual input by the user. Data is continuously available from the mobile phone by way of currently receiving base stations, on the basis of which the position of the driver can be determined. The data collected by the mobile phone is sent to a central office and analyzed. The main focus of the analysis is to determine the current position of the driver. To do this, the project developed a unique positioning method with which an accuracy of 125 to 625 miles is achieved in field tests in cities. The feasibility of a positioning accuracy of 31 to 62 miles was apparently also proven.

The initiators say that a TTS-based survey does not lead to any data protection problems. For one thing, only drivers who have given previous consent are included in the survey, and for another thing, each person can decide for themselves at any time whether data should be sent from their mobile phone to the central office or not.

To gather experience with the practical application of the system and to judge the acceptance of the new method, a practice test was carried out with 160 women and men from different age groups. The test participants registered their routes on three days using a mobile phone and on one day using a normal questionnaire.

The widespread assessment of the traffic situation using mobile phone positioning provides an information base for efficient traffic control in traffic management centers. GSM positioning will enable a contemporary and therefore current assessment of the traffic situation and would economically support logistical services in the management of deliveries. Additionally, it will be possible to provide WAP-phone users with mobile, current, and localized information on the traffic situation, on alternatives, and on public transportation possibilities.