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City of Houston launches new Bluetooth-based arterial travel time system

Houston Mayor, Annise Parker, and the city’s Department of Public Works & Engineering have announced a new traffic management tool, which uses state-of-the-art Bluetooth technology. The probe-based travel time approach uses Bluetooth readers, placed at key locations in west Houston, to allow drivers to see real-time travel flow via the Houston TranStar website. Commuters in the area will now be able to navigate around potentially congested roadways, saving time and money. It’s the largest known deployment of Bluetooth technology by a governmental agency in the USA.

The Bluetooth readers identify an anonymous ID address from devices such as cell phones, headsets and automobiles. The addresses are then matched between intersections and the travel time is calculated. The anonymous Bluetooth ID number is deleted once a match has been made. The Bluetooth-based AWAM (Anonymous Wireless Address Matching) sensor technology was researched and developed by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), a part of the Texas A&M University System, and was funded by the City of Houston,. It is the first phase of a wider Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) deployment that will include Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras and Variable Message Signs (VMS).

The project’s early research stage used toll tag readers as the identification system and was priced at US$90,000 per location. The new, Bluetooth-based devices were deployed at a total cost of US$50,000 per location, which saved the city approximately US$4.5 million. The project’s 160 square kilometer (62 square miles) area is bounded by IH-10 on the north, IH-610 on the east, the Westpark Tollway on the south and up to and including SH-6 on the west. Approximately 20.4 million vehicle kilometers (12.7 million vehicle miles) travel daily through the corridor. Mayor Parker said, “The nearly 250,000 people who live here, as well as the 12.7 million people who work in and travel through this area, will greatly benefit from the new technology. We know that west Houston is one of those areas experiencing increased growth.” The success of the project may lead to expanded coverage in other areas of the city.

 

 

March 8, 2011

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