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TomTom and Vodafone UK Introduce Advanced Traffic Data Syste
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Darren
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:19 am    Post subject: TomTom and Vodafone UK Introduce Advanced Traffic Data Syste Reply with quote

pocketgpsworld.comTomTom and Vodafone UK announced today that they are to jointly develop a new traffic information system that will deliver superior travel time information to UK road users.

This agreement will allow TomTom to use information from the Vodafone UK network to provide accurate, real-time information on the speed and direction of cars travelling on all major roads across the UK. As a result customers will have a better understanding of the exact traffic situation and be able to plan and change their route instantly to avoid traffic congestion.

We first heard of this new solution at CeBIT back in March and it sounds quite promising. what is the first thing you do when you're on the way to the office or a meeting and you gets tuck in traffic? Phone someone. Now using some very clever software it allows TomTom to analyse data from Vodafone's network to identify actual road speeds and as a result provide real-time indication of congestion to subscribers.

Here is the text of the full press release:

Quote:
TomTom and Vodafone UK To Introduce the World’s Most Advanced Travel Time Information System for Superior Navigation in the UK

Accurate Travel Time for All Roads

London, UK, 26 June 2007 - TomTom, the world’s largest navigation solutions provider, and Vodafone UK today announce that they will jointly develop a new traffic information system that will deliver superior travel time information.

This exclusive agreement will see TomTom’s in-house patented technology use information from the Vodafone UK network to provide accurate, real-time information on the speed and direction of cars traveling on all major roads across the UK. As a result customers will have a better understanding of the exact traffic situation and be able to plan and change their route instantly to avoid traffic congestion.

“This important development is a major breakthrough in mobility management and route guidance and will significantly benefit our customers. This will clearly improve the daily travel experience of our UK users.” Harold Goddijn, TomTom’s chief executive officer comments. “By working with Vodafone to bring the granularity of information from their mobile network to solve everyday navigation needs, we will redefine traffic mobility in the UK. It is TomTom’s ambition to cover 50% of our installed European base by 2008 and this is another step towards making this revolutionary solution available to more drivers.”

“We are extremely pleased to be working with TomTom to bring this innovative service to the UK. This exciting new initiative is a further demonstration of our commitment to develop new opportunities in the mobile market,” said Tim Stone, Director of New Business Development and Wholesale for Vodafone UK. “Thanks to the quality of our data, UK drivers will soon be able to access up-to-the-minute traffic updates that will let them plan and navigate the fastest route for all their journeys.”

Details of the service will be made available at launch which is expected to be in the first half of 2008. All current and future TomTom users will be able to benefit from the service, once it is available. The solution will also be available for road authorities and businesses, who may use it for dynamic traffic control management and improved fleet management.

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SpikeyMikey
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info Darren,

Does this system basically use GPRS, the same as I do now with O2, except with Vodaphone supplying the info instead of a third party?

I'm not completely up to date on the methods used, so a laymans approach would be appreciated.

Thanks

Mike
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Darren
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd guess that this will be a service delivered via GPRS yes. It will still be a subscription service supplied by TomTom but whether it is in addition to the data supplied by iTIS for their existing Traffic PLUS Service remains to be seen. Again another guess but I'd expect the two would be used together.

We talked to their development bods about this at CeBIT and it was very interesting. The data is only available from phones that make active calls, until then I'd assumed they could gather data from all phones whether in call or not. Apparently there is more than sufficient data from phones making calls to provide a very accurate real-time map of traffic patterns, actual road speeds etc.

And the beauty of this solution is the worse the jam, the more vehicles are stuck in it and hence the more calls are made!
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philpugh
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting idea, with quite a bit of potential.

I wonder how they distinguish between non-moving mobiles close to a road and those on the road? If they only use information each time a phone is handed from one GSM cell to another they run the risk of missing a completely blocked road.

Also they don't need to wait for people to use their 'phone. Having it switched on is enough to be roughly geo-located using GSM technology
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philpugh
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darren wrote:
We talked to their development bods about this at CeBIT and it was very interesting. The data is only available from phones that make active calls, until then I'd assumed they could gather data from all phones whether in call or not. Apparently there is more than sufficient data from phones making calls to provide a very accurate real-time map of traffic patterns, actual road speeds etc.



Missed this bit before my previous reply. So... assuming that most of the calls made are business related whilst driving on business, they are going to show average road speeds above the speed limits on most roads Wink

I still think that they would get much better "averaging" using "on - but not being used" phones. Spotting stationary traffic still seems problematic unless there are enough "callers" that go from moving to stationary - which may be the case. You will certainly get a lot of calls made from stationary vehicles in jams - which begs the question I asked in the other posting - how can they tell the difference between stationary vehicles and mobiles in use at side of the road / adjacent buildings etc.
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Darren
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

philpugh wrote:
Interesting idea, with quite a bit of potential.

I wonder how they distinguish between non-moving mobiles close to a road and those on the road? If they only use information each time a phone is handed from one GSM cell to another they run the risk of missing a completely blocked road.

Also they don't need to wait for people to use their 'phone. Having it switched on is enough to be roughly geo-located using GSM technology

They did explain and it was far more than simply waiting for a hand off between base stations. They have information on timing etc which can tell if a vehicle is moving away or towards the transmitter even whilst connected to the same cell site and they use this in conjunction with which antenna array the call is being routed through to calculate direction and speed.

This information is only available to them during an active call, we did ask why they could not use the data from phones in standby handing over between cells, I don't recall if this was not available to them or if the in-call data was more accurate for these purposes.

As for differentiating between phones in vehicles and phones being used in adjacent premises, I don't know, again we discussed this and they did explain they were using some very clever filtering but it was a long time ago and quite technical so I confess I can't answer in detail!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darren wrote:
...but it was a long time ago and quite technical so I confess I can't answer in detail!


i believe i was hung over, so on't ask me if i can remember!

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trevor.dowle
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

philpugh wrote:
Interesting idea, with quite a bit of potential.

I wonder how they distinguish between non-moving mobiles close to a road and those on the road? If they only use information each time a phone is handed from one GSM cell to another they run the risk of missing a completely blocked road.

Also they don't need to wait for people to use their 'phone. Having it switched on is enough to be roughly geo-located using GSM technology


A problem that I foresee, is that unless ALL users are on handsfree, then mobile phone phones should be used whilst stationary. Meaning of course that a lot of calls are going to be liable to misinterpretation (law abiding drivers having pulled over to make/answer a call). To say nothing about those who call from roadside services. Calls from these areas cannot be ignored as the traffic jam could have occured on the adjacent road. Clacketts Lane services on the M25 is an ideal example!
It also relies exclusively upon Vodaphone users being in these traffic jams, and the majority of them then using their telephones.
I wonder what proportion of mobile users are on the Vodaphone network?
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Gurj
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was thinking about something like this the other week.

In standby handsets perform periodic location updates. This alone can give some level of individual handset movement information (e.g. a user driving down the M1 can be see to perform periodic and needed location updates as they pass through lots of cells). The network should they be inclined could anonymise this information together with all other mobiles passing these same cells and work out *real* journey times between stretches of the main routes. It would need to be statistical because individual users may stop for a break or leave the main routes. This could work for any roads not just motorways.

Another possibility is that only instantaneous data is used, in that even a mobile performing a location update does so through a short duration connection to the Base Station. During this connection, timing and direction information can be deduced. This is the same information as during a voice call. On top of this the networks can "page" a mobile to force it to temporarily connect (not for a call) and this could be done more often when traffic flow is being deduced.

Scary though it is, the movement of everyones mobile could be tracked and recorded (Big Brother are you watching!) and one view of this data would be to determine traffic data. Hopefully privacy and data protection laws safe guard as.
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Darren
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gurj wrote:
Scary though it is, the movement of everyones mobile could be tracked and recorded (Big Brother are you watching!) and one view of this data would be to determine traffic data. Hopefully privacy and data protection laws safe guard as.

To some extent it is already, there have been a number of prosecutions where evidence from mobile phones was used to place suspects in a certain area.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always wondered why they don't collect data from the TomTom devices themselves. Around cities, a huge amount of people seem to have TomTom devices installed and if they subscribe to Traffic then I think it should also send your position, direction and average speed over the last couple of minutes. This would only be a few bytes of extra data to send but I'm sure could be used to enhance the traffic information on roads which are not covered by TrafficMaster.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed, I guess the only issues here are anonymity etc. This type of data could also help identify areas where the mapping is incorrect!
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I've been trying to get TeleAtlas to correct some one-way streets for about 5 years now. If TomTom had seen 20,000 people drive down the street the wrong way, I'm sure they could have an algorithm which automatically corrects the data whenever this happens!

Same goes for new roads. Even if they can't collect the street name, if 10 cars drive down a road which isn't on TomToms maps, you have some extremely accurate data with which they could easily and automatically build an "unnamed road" which could then be named by users using MapShare following it's release!

The whole system could be so much better but they just don't seem very keen to make use of the data they could collect.

I know there are some privacy zealots around, but I suspect most people would be prepared to opt in to this service if they new it would help TomTom correct problems with roads in their area. The data for new roads could be sent anonymously anyway and collected when you dock your tomtom so it wouldn't even use up your GPRS bill.
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Gmonkey
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NickG wrote:
Yes, I've been trying to get TeleAtlas to correct some one-way streets for about 5 years now. If TomTom had seen 20,000 people drive down the street the wrong way, I'm sure they could have an algorithm which automatically corrects the data whenever this happens!


That's actually a really good point. If they can somehow tell the speed and direction in which people are driving, why can't they use that data to adjust the accuracy of the maps? However, we know TomTom is definitely experimenting with new ways of improving maps (Map Share), and Tele Atlas already has Map Insight. That'd be a slamdunk if the Vodaphone data could be used, as well.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder what our friends at iTIS and Trafficmaster think of this idea.

iTIS have made a few contributions to the TMC forum, but Trafficmaster have yet to put in an appearance.

One question though - if I'm WALKING along a road, how would this system know that whether I'm walking or sitting in a traffic jam? What about all those Vodafone users talking on their phones at service stations?

It sounds good in theory, but I'm not sure just how well it will work in practice.

Edit: oops, that was 2 questions - time to take my shoes and socks off to start counting properly Laughing
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