Palo Alto (CA) - Nokia and UC Berkeley just finished a new research project that was able to provide real-time "direct from the street" traffic information using nothing but mobile phone GPS signals.
There are countless websites and subscription services that offer real-time traffic information based on accident reports and complicated calculations, but Nokia and UCB took that one step further by getting this data directly from traveling cars.
In the study, 100 students traveled a 10-mile stretch of highway along the California coastline. Each car was equipped with a Nokia N95 phone with GPS capabilities. The entire pool of GPS data was submitted to the university in real-time.
The point of the study was to see if this provided more accurate information than sources like traffic.com, which rely on weather conditions, accidents, and other external factors that are just plugged into a scale formula.
UC Berkeley said in a statement, "To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of this scale using GPS-enabled mobile devices to provide
traffic related data such as travel times, and with a deliberate focus on critical deployment factors like bandwidth costs and personal privacy
Nokia says it wants to take this small test of 100 people and branch it out to everyone who owns a GPS-enabled Nokia phone. Users would have the option of sending their data anonymously to a central server that is able to collect and broadcast information from around the country.