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.

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