San Francisco tests intelligent transportation IT

San Francisco Bay Area commuters will have access to cutting-edge, real-time traffic, transit and road safety information as the result of one of the largest field tests of intelligent transportation systems technology under the Transportation Department's SafeTrip-21 initiative.

Through a $12.4 million partnership between DOT and California's Transportation Department, commuters will test various technology applications designed to reduce gridlock and traffic-related fatalities and injuries on roadways, as well as improve public transportation services.

In the Bay Area initiative, multiple electronic tools will be used, including personal navigation devices, mobile phones and other communication technologies. In addition, an in-vehicle cradle will provide a wireless connection to the Internet for most mobile electronic devices.

As many as 10,000 volunteers will test cellular phones that will track their locations using the Global Positioning System. Transit vehicles will transmit data from roads in a 200-mile radius to traffic management centers. The information will help commuters make intelligent travel choices and avoid congestion when driving to work or using local transit systems.

The program will also help develop a Vehicle Infrastructure Integration system to use wireless and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) to alert drivers to unsafe conditions so they can avoid crashes.

DSRC is a wireless protocol that allows vehicles to communicate with roadside equipment. Possible applications include emergency warning systems for vehicles, forward collision warning and intersection collision avoidance, approaching emergency vehicle warning, rollover warning, and highway/rail intersection warnings.

The SafeTrip-21 initiative is working to develop a platform that will unite existing technologies, such as trip planning and traveler information, safety advisories, onboard displays of commuter rail and transit bus connections, electronic toll collection, and parking reservation and payment services. The program will be unveiled to the public during the 2008 World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in New York City in November.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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