Berkeley press release:
Union City, Calif. -- Researchers from the University of California,
Berkeley, and Nokia today (Friday, Feb. 8) tested technology that could soon
transform the way drivers navigate through congested highways and obtain
information about road conditions. In the unprecedented field experiment,
transportation researchers tested the feasibility of using GPS-enabled
mobile phones to monitor real-time traffic flow while preserving the privacy
of the phones' users.
One hundred vehicles were deployed onto a 10-mile stretch of I-880 between
Hayward and Fremont for seven hours in the experiment, dubbed "Mobile
Century" and primarily funded by the California Department of Transportation
(Caltrans). Each car was equipped with a Nokia N95 mobile phone that ran
special software to periodically send anonymous speed readings from the
integrated GPS to servers that then computed traffic conditions. Information
was displayed on the Internet, allowing viewers to visualize traffic in real
time. An independent tracking feature allowed the command center set up in
Union City to track the position of the cars to coordinate the experiment
and ensure the safety of the participants.
Using the GPS data to estimate prevailing speeds and travel times,
researchers were able to obtain a picture of real-time traffic conditions.
Current traffic monitoring systems primarily rely upon pavement-embedded
sensors, roadside radar or cameras. The high cost of installing and
maintaining such systems has restricted their coverage to limited stretches
This research project between UC Berkeley and the Nokia Research Center was
born of collaborative efforts by UC Berkeley's Center for Information
Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and Tekes, a Finnish
government funding agency. Both CITRIS and Tekes foster partnerships between
universities, research institutes and industry to speed technological
innovation to consumers.