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Spanish university develops Bluetooth-based traffic monitoring system

Researchers at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) in Spain have developed an application that generates traffic information for cities and roads by detecting the Bluetooth signals given off by enabled devices on board vehicles.

Developed by three researchers at UPM’s School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSIT), the collected Bluetooth information can provide travel times between two points, or the distribution of traffic at intersections, which will allow city councils and highway operators to better manage their road networks and help prevent congestion.

The problems caused by increased road use are responsible for drivers wasting an average of over 30 hours a year worldwide. The research team says the waste of time caused by traffic congestion can be translated into a financial loss of €88bn (US$99.8bn) in the USA per annum, and €839m (US$952m) in the city of Madrid alone. The UPM team is convinced that it is necessary to implement measures to improve mobility in both roads and urban road infrastructures that will help alleviate the current situation.

The researchers have developed BlueTT, a software program embedded in a complete monitoring system that generates relevant information about congestion on streets and roads. The BlueTT system identifies the anonymous MAC (media access control) addresses of individual Bluetooth devices on board vehicles and processes the data to forecast travel times, with updates every minute, as well as being able to automatically adapt a city’s control systems to the specific conditions of the traffic at all times.

The BlueTT system is able to connect thousands of detectors on the same platform by registering the new sensors that are deployed at different magnifications. This capacity provides the system with the essential scalability that is required in this type of application. The captured data is provided through a web interface that contains the travel time in real time and a set of queries that can interrogate the information that is stored on a database.

The result of the research is a robust system for generating relevant information about traffic that has been deployed on three networks currently operational in Madrid and Seville, where the BlueTT have been running in real-world conditions since November 2013. UPM is now concluding agreements to use BlueTT with traffic managers in several cities, and a spin-off company is to set to be formed in order to boost its commercial development.

June 22, 2015

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