Efficient roads and traffic systems are one of the most important components of urban infrastructure. The study of traffic flows therefore is needed to design better roads, highway systems, bike lanes, sidewalks and other necessities.
Cities are now home to 50 percent of the world’s population and this number is said to grow in the coming years. Designing better infrastructure is a challenge and tracking road usage is another.
Traffic data is acquired by using pressure or magnetic sensors, which work for larger objects like cars or trucks. However, signals from pedestrians and cyclists are too weak to pick up, which is where Spanish company Libelium comes in.
The company will use the unique bluetooth signals generated from cell phones of walkers and/or cyclists in order to track data. According to them:
Understanding the flow and congestion of vehicular traffic is essential for efficient road systems in cities. Smooth vehicle flows reduce journey times, reduce emissions and save energy. Similarly the efficient flow of pedestrians in an airport, stadium or shopping centre saves time and can make the difference between a good and a bad visit. Monitoring traffic – whether road vehicles or people – is useful for operators of roads, attractions and transport hubs.
The proposed platform senses the flow of Bluetooth devices in a given roadway or street. It also has the capability to differentiate hands-free car kits from pedestrian phones. This data is then transferred by a multi-hop ZigBee radio, via an internet gateway, to a server. The measured traffic can then be analyzed to address congestion or vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
The technology uses the Expansion Radio Board for Waspmote, this allows two different types of radios to be connected at the same time. The Bluetooth radio is used as a sensor to detect nearby devices and the ZigBee radio sends this information. The Bluetooth radio allows up to 250 devices to be scanned.
The proposed technology will not only help in designing better roadways but will also help in giving better accurate reports about which areas are most crowded for walking or cycling. Such information is also vital for designing structures like pedestrian bridges, which many cities are in need of. This information can also be incorporated into maps to give people less crowded routes as options. Ultimately, the aim of the technology is to make it easier for walkers and bikers to do their thing. To promote more sustainable cities, anything that makes it easier for people to be more eco-friendly in their lifestyle should be encouraged.
Image Credit: Libelium/Promo image