Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Traffic jams and cell phones.

  1. Jun 16, 2009 #1
    A couple of decades ago it was feared that the Dutch economy would slowly smother in the traffic jams. The invention of the cell phone however appeared to have countered that. People just continue doing business by cell phone, while waiting in the traffic jams.

    I just discovered that cell phones have a second function in the traffic as well nowadays; to measure traffic delay and traffic jams. The speed at which the cellphones move from one emitter station to another is registered and analysed. The result is used to calculate the traffic jams on the roads in the Netherlands to get a near real time overview of the traffic misery here.

    Any other place in the world where a similar system is used?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2009 #2
    Maybe all those people on their phones are contributing to the traffic jams!

    I know around here they use news helicopters for traffic reporting. I think they also have cameras set up near the freeways to monitor traffic.

    http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/gadgets/cellphone-gps-traffic-monitoring.asp
    This story says that Nextel has come out with a product that tracks traffic using customer cellphone GPS signals. Another link I found says that the idea actually came from UC Berkeley here in California with sponsorship from Nokia. So far I haven't found any references to it being used by news or government agencies.

    The funny thing is that it says you must opt into the service for your information to be utilized. So the people who are sending information to keep updated traffic reports are the people checking the traffic reports to decide their routes. Doesn't that seem like it wouldn't work out right? lol
     
  4. Jun 16, 2009 #3

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Traffic jams are the one time I condone talking on the cell phone while driving, as long as you get back off the phone when the roads open up and you need to pay attention to faster moving vehicles around you...and your own speed...again. The reason I condone it, aside from the fact that you're doing more sitting still than actually driving, is that I think it keeps people calmer when stuck in traffic if they can call someone and either distract themselves from their boredom of sitting still, or just let them know they'll be late for something so they aren't getting aggressive trying to get through the traffic to try to make it on time for something if the people waiting for them don't know they will be late.
     
  5. Jun 16, 2009 #4

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The GPS one requires the customer supply the data, and in return get the map of where the traffic is. Since the phone company charges for the data sent the company generating the map can take a cut of that.
    The Nokia experiment simply used the logging info in the base stations, how long a phone remained connected to each station and what cell it as passed onto next. So it can track a phone's progress along the road without the user having to do anything other than have a cellphone with a charged battery.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  6. Jun 16, 2009 #5
    That's pretty cool, but it's also a bit scary to think that the phone companies can track your movements by a cell phone while you're not even talking on it. And I assume that the police could utilize that information also, for hunting down suspected criminals
     
  7. Jun 16, 2009 #6

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think 911 services can use it too, if you call and get disconnected, if your phone stays on, I think they can still locate you.

    Most of it isn't so much that they're spying on you as that as long as your phone is on, it's communicating with towers so you can receive your calls and messages. If the phone was only checking in with towers when you placed a call, you'd never be able to receive calls except through call-waiting.
     
  8. Jun 16, 2009 #7

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    In theory since a ruling last year they do now need a warrant, but given the number of calls phone companies tapped recently without a warrant I wouldn't bet on it. The criminals of course know this and aren't about to shout - "the drug shipment arrives today", on a cell phone - and anyway they use stolen phones or disposable pay-as-you-go phones.

    It is useful for identifying and tracking people on CCTV and is of course vital in the war on {drugs/terror/child porn/overdue library books}.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  9. Jun 16, 2009 #8

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Hands free cell phones also make it more difficult to spot nutters, I saw a guy in the supermarket yesterday having a heated arguement with a bunch of carrots until I spotted the plastic brain slug in his ear.

    Cell phones while driving are dangerous especially if they cause you to spill your coffee while you are playing with the GPS.
     
  10. Jun 16, 2009 #9

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    :rofl: Plastic brain slug! I like that term. I'm going to have to borrow it now. :biggrin: :rofl: I think if you're going to use those things, you have to cut your hair short or pull it back so it's more apparent that you are on the phone. Then again, we don't actually know if the thing is on or if there's someone even listening at the other end. They still might be talking to themselves.

    On the issue of using cell phones in public, it really doesn't matter how the signal between the phone and cell tower is encrypted if everyone in the bus, restaurant, mall, or park can hear your conversation as you read aloud your credit card number. Oh, wait, that's the other thread. Dang, I hate when threads converge. :rolleyes:
     
  11. Jun 17, 2009 #10
    There was a funny scene in a tv show called Journeyman. The show was about a guy who traveled back in time spontaneously and against his will. In one episode he went back to the late eighties. A guy walks up next to him talking on his giant brick of a mobile phone while he himself is wearing his bluetooth ear piece. They both stop and look at one another like the other is a weirdo.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Traffic jams and cell phones.
  1. Your's Cell Phone (Replies: 25)

  2. Cell phone cooks egg? (Replies: 11)

  3. Prime Cell Phones (Replies: 40)

Loading...