A Novel Wireless Mobility Monitoring and Tracking System: Applications for Smart Traffic

A Novel Wireless Mobility Monitoring and Tracking System: Applications for Smart Traffic

Antonio J. Fernández-Ares (University of Granada, Granada, Spain), Antonio Miguel Mora-Garcia (University of Granada, Computer Architecture and Technology Department, Granada, Spain), María I. García-Arenas (University of Granada, Granada, Spain), Pablo García-Sánchez (University of Granada, Granada, Spain), Gustavo Romero (University of Granada, Computer Architecture and Technology Department, Granada, Spain), Suhail M. Odeh (Bethlehem University, Computer and Information Systems Department, Bethlehem, Palestine) and Pedro A. Castillo (University of Granada, Computer Architecture and Technology Department, Granada, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCSSA.2016070104
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This paper presents a mobility monitoring system, based on the detection of Bluetooth and WiFi signals emitted by personal portable devices. The work also describes its possibilities of tracking in two real scenarios, one inside the Spanish city of Granada, and another one in a highway between Granada and Málaga, both with several detection nodes. They have been deployed trying to solve one of the most difficult issues in the city, namely the automatic and accurate hourly monitoring of traffic, in order to synchronise the traffic lights, for instance. Moreover, their deployment in a highway might be very useful for other traffic issues, such as computing the average speed in a section of the road. Thus, this system could be used as a tool for smart city and smart traffic. In the experiments, the datasets gathered by the system nodes are analysed, yielding useful information for the automatic detection of rush hours, the identification of traffic flows and computing speed rates.
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Nowadays, any system able to collect reliable traffic information and process it to be useful for wide population is key for the society, since providing useful information increases the ability of improvement of any community. For example, not only alleviating traffic congestion, but also decreasing the fatalities caused by car crashes (Haghani, 2010).

Cities tend to implement this kind of systems in order to address one of the issues of the so-called smart cities. A Smart City is a city that works in an intelligent and sustainable way, integrating all its services and infrastructures as a whole, using intelligent devices to control and monitoring, in order to ensure sustainability and efficiency (Hancke, 2013).

Thus, the local, regional or national governments take advantage of these kinds of data to improve services, to compute useful traffic statistics, or to optimise the traffic light synchronization, among other uses. In any case, the collected traffic data must be reliable and useful both, in real time, and also in the near future, applying forecasting tools to obtain value-added information (Martchouk, 2011). Traffic information is currently gathered using several kinds of devices, such as pneumatic tubes, loop detectors, or floating vehicles. However, most of the current mobility monitoring systems deployed in the roads present as main flaw the lack of availability to identify detected vehicles, thus, making it impossible to track them along their path (Martchouk, 2011). Systems able to perform this task, such as Optical Character Recognition (to identify license plates of vehicles), tend to be very expensive, so, just a few of them can be used, and just in very specific and main roads.

This work presents a novel wireless tracking and monitoring system which could be used as a tool for the urban traffic flow monitoring, along with its analysis and prediction. Thus, it could be a part of an intelligent transportation system, an essential component of a smart city. Due to its low-cost, this system is being deployed in a project in collaboration with the Mobility Office of the City Council of Granada. The aim is to effectively monitor the traffic inside the main streets of the city, predicting its flows, in order to anticipate congestion or jams, and to optimise the current urban transport organisation and management.

The system, called MOBYWIT (Mobility by Wireless Tracking), is an evolution of the one presented in (Castillo, 2014), including WiFi detection besides Bluetooth (BT), improvements in efficiency, error handling, tolerance to faults and hardware upgrade that allows more computing power per device. MOBYWIT is based on a single-board computer which monitors the radio-electric space catching BT and WiFi signals emitted by other devices.

Although every phone and smartphone uses a GSM or GPRS module for voice and Internet (3G or 4G) communications, they present some limitations for using it for Wireless Tracking. The possibility of using these protocols has been recently studied by several authors, such as Dabrowski (2014), who determined that it is illegal. The reason is that in order to detect a phone communication it is necessary to apply an IMSI-catcher attack, that simulates a telephonic antenna, which is illegal and punishable, as the frequency band used (HF) is not available for “civilian uses” in most countries. For example, in Spain their use is regulated in the Telecommunications Law of 2014. Moreover, the UHF band used in WiFi and Bluetooth is permitted for civilian use, and so they are implanted in other kind of devices.

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