Although often not we realize, the smart mobile phones they are powerful tools that can be used to gather data and valuable information beyond our photos and messages on social networks. It is an increasingly important part of the Big Data that is gradually applied to different aspects of our daily activities and that soon could reach also the bus lines.
Researchers at the University of Washington have been working on an intelligent data collection system used smartphones of the passengers as information source and that put to the test last spring with good results.
It is installed on each bus a small sensor that detects whenever it enters a mobile vehicle thanks to the identification of WiFi and Bluetooth signals. that are associated with a unique MAC address in an anonymous way.
Entering, the sensor automatically records your phone and capture information such as the date and time, How many people had already on the bus, the exact place in which is located the stop, the time it has taken, etc. Then with all these data performance of each line, you can analyze if it is necessary to improve transit times or expand the number of buses.
At the moment the first tests appear to be satisfactory and the reduced cost of the sensor, which is worth about $60, You can achieve it is popularized among public transport companies. Problems? Maybe several. For example, there’s the issue of anonymity, since many people do not want that your mobile phone is registered upon entering the vehicle.
That is why some turn off the automatic detection of wireless networks and the system in such cases does not work. You also need to improve false positives for people who are in the stops but not finally entering the bus, which can mistakenly alter the data collected by the system.