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Your Cell Phone Is Helping Build Better Roads

11/1/2013 | Construction Blog

Certain locales, including Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey, are using a new technology created by a Madison, Wisconsin company to measure travel times on roads. The technology picks up blue tooth signals from cell phones to measure the travel time between defined points on highways.

Called Blue TOAD, the traffic monitoring system reads specific blue tooth signals as cars pass certain defined “check points”. When the same vehicle passes the next check point with its unique blue tooth signal, the time it took to travel between check points can be compared to the known distance to determine useful data about road conditions. When combined with data which can already be obtained from EZ Pass readers, GPS tracked fleets like Federal Express and UPS, and old fashioned visual identification using video, traffic engineers can more accurately assess traffic patterns and plan roads accordingly. It can also be used to measure things like the impact of construction zones on roads and, as a byproduct, impact safety evaluations.

This technology is relatively new and is being implemented all over the country. By some reports, Philadelphia is using it on most of its major highways. Parts of New Jersey are also using the technology.