Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

7.10 Traffic Monitoring in Rural Areas or Blackout Areas

Traffic monitoring tends to occur on key facilities generally located in urbanized areas, not in rural areas. However, not all evacuations occur in urbanized areas. For example, the rail derailment that resulted in the release of chlorine gas occurred in the community of Graniteville, South Carolina. In addition, during blackout events, electricity may not be available to traffic monitoring devices, thus preventing traffic management centers from monitoring the situation.

A wireless traffic monitoring system tool is being developed by AirSage to provide real-time traffic data that could be used in rural areas and during blackouts, as well as in urbanized areas and during non-blackout situations.

As reported in the AirSage press release, “AirSage is producing real-time traffic data from wireless phone signaling data. Its patent-pending technology assures individual privacy and offers states a fast, affordable way to extend ITS benefits without additional roadway work zones to install traditional sensors. Signaling data between moving wireless phones and the carrier network are collected and anonymized at secure carrier sites, then converted to real-time traffic speed information and delivered as a live web-based service to government and commercial customers.

“AirSage, Inc. announced that it was granted a patent for its unique method of extracting operational data from the wireless carrier network, matching it with computerized street maps and calculating travel times and speeds on specific road segments. The data is made available as a streaming web feed that can be turned into traffic maps for local news broadcasts, data for transportation planners and congestion alerts for busy commuters and mobile sales personnel. This wireless solution allows AirSage to provide an affordable option to transportation agencies and commercial firms in creating local traffic data for the traveling public.

“It is particularly promising in rural areas, where the application of traditional sensor technologies becomes prohibitively expensive. One key aspect of the patent addresses AirSage’s technique for ensuring the privacy of cellular customers—a critical requirement to meet strict privacy policies of wireless carriers and laws in the US and abroad. Another addresses the advanced systems architecture that allows AirSage to work directly with mobile phone carrier systems to passively extract the required signaling data needed to produce quality traffic information.”

February 7, 2006
Publication #FHWA–HOP-08-015