Nokia transforms people into traffic reporters

10. February 2008 at 11:04

That’s quite a drastic title, but it’s the essence of the experiment.

The news isn’t that new either, but I just found a video of the experiment thanks to kerni from Symbian-Freak.

Watch the video here

Nokia has partnered with UC Berkeley researchers, and invited 100 drivers to use a N95’s GPS and drive 10 miles (16km) near a highway in San Francisco, the N95s will report back to servers, which will produce data and a GPS feed for the devices to report if there is a traffic congestion, or even accidents. Many users might consider this as a hit against their privacy, but I don’t believe that the servers are in any way connected to CIA’s headquarters.

According to Nokia, to protect privacy, all data is anonymous and aggregated, and protected by banking-grade encryption, I can see how much data costs it would generate will heavy encryptions.

“Mobile device users control the service. If an individual does not want their device to transmit position data they turn off the feed from their GPS,” stated Quinn Jacobson, Research Leader at Nokia Research Center, Palo Alto.

“Nokia is very excited at the potential for this system to revolutionize travel planning, carrying on from the Nokia Maps navigation service available today on certain Nokia devices,” continued Jacobson. “Integration of traffic information with functions such as calendar and online timetables may one day mean the mobile device can act as personal travel planner.”
“There are mobile device-based systems out there that can collect data in a variety of ways, such as measuring signal strength from towers and triangulating position, but 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 issues,” said Director Thomas West, director, UC Berkeley’s California Center for Innovative Transportation.Less than 5% of highway users at a single time are needed to contribute to an accurate feed, what I can tell now is that there is no way that 5% of highway drivers have a GPS enabled phone, but in the future, if Nokia conducts a partnership with other mobile companies and even GPS manufacturers, this dream could be a reality.

A problem with this Traffic Monitoring System in many countries would be data costs. If there was any way that the system could communicate with other devices through Wi-Fi or other free long range wireless technologies, the costs would decrease.

In the video, Bob Iannucci tells Erica Ogg from CNet News that Nokia dreams that one day, your phone could tell you that you should leave 15 minutes earlier because there is a traffic congestion on the road to the so called meeting. This is quite a great vision, which I’m looking forward to see. Many people are already experiencing part of this, Nokia Maps 2.0 has the RTTI implemented, go check at their blogs:
All About Symbian

Original article

Pictures: Navigadget, All About Symbian
Source: Nokia, Symbian-Freak, CNet