12 November 2005

MonitoringTraffic by Cellphone Use

Posted by Jameson Penn
Some states including Maryland and Virginia are beginning to monitor traffic by tracking cell phone signals and mapping them against road grids. Very practical approach to take, which is refreshing in light of revenue-hungry localities such as DC who see correlations between driving and cell phone use and issue an outright ban to reign in the revenues.
State officials say the systems will monitor large clusters of phones, not individual phones, and the benefits could be substantial. By providing a constantly updated picture of traffic flow across thousands of miles of highways, they argue, cellphone tracking can help transportation agencies spot congestion and divert drivers by issuing alerts by radio or on electronic road signs.

Next month, Maryland, with the help of the University of Baltimore, plans to begin tests for a cellular tracking system in the Baltimore area. Virginia also plans to test a system around the Norfolk beltway. Similar technology is already in use outside the United States, including in London, Antwerp, Belgium, and Tel Aviv.

"The potential is incredible," said Phil Tarnoff, director of the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology at the University of Maryland. He said the monitoring technology could drivers by issuing alerts by radio or on electronic road signs.

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