Moving cell phones will help 680News create live traffic reports

Greater Toronto Area (GTA) commuters stuck in traffic have one more reason to tune into 680News for help.

The Toronto-based AM radio station – popular for providing news, traffic and weather conditions every ten minutes – is using new technology from Intellione Inc. and Rogers Wireless – dubbed io-traffic – to generate live traffic reports based on GPS information from mobile phones.

680News is the first radio station in Canada to use this technology that reportedly provides accurate-to-the-minute information.

Coverage currently extends across the GTA, including the east-west stretch from Oshawa to Burlington and north to the 407 Express Toll Route.

Plans to expand into other major Canadian cities are in the works.

Listeners of JackFM, The Fan 590 and CHFI will also benefit, as the Rogers-owned stations report traffic information provided by 680News.

Rogers produces the raw data from moving cell phones through the network, while Intellione picks up the data to produce actual traffic information, explained Willem Galle, COO of Intellione.

io-traffic provides congestion information and travel times between locations minute accuracy, said Galle, as opposed to consumer GPS devices that estimate travel time on standard travel speeds.

 “If you stood on top of the CN tower, it was pitch dark, and everybody had lighter, you would actually see the lighters travel over the street and see the space and the speed. It works in a very similar way,” Galle said.

Results are displayed on a colour-coded map that highlights traffic issues.

680News reporters can click on a section of the map at any given time to see the measured speed and number of handsets currently monitoring that particular road segment, Galle said.

Cell phones owners squirming at the notion of being tracked around the GTA by Rogers shouldn’t worry.

The data remains anonymous, said Tom Soumbas, senior program manager, news services market launch, Rogers Wireless.

“All this happens anonymously because it is controlled data on hundreds of thousands of devices that travel through Toronto,” Galle said. “We take a single position and multiple positions over time on the same road so we can compute the speed at which those devices are traveling.”  

He said io-traffic has several potential business uses.

The technology would benefit emergency response services such as ambulances and the police, the Intellitone executive noted. It could also bring value to companies such as UPS and Fed Ex and dispatch services.

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