EU project develops pioneering traffic information service
Road safety is a major concern in Europe, with around 40,000 people dying in road accidents every year, and more than 1.7 million sustaining injuries. The EU-funded Highway project has climbed into the driving seat and developed a pioneering traffic information service which it hopes will reduce the number of road accidents. The system sends up-to-the-minute information on driving conditions, accidents, traffic jams and road works to drivers' mobile phones. The driver can also receive suggestions of alternative, safer courses to follow, accompanied by the same up-to-date information service, meaning that road-users are aware of the obstacles on their paths and are thus less likely to be involved in accidents. The system works by integrating smart real-time maps, modern mobile phone technology, positioning systems, 2D/3D spatial tools and speech/voice recognition interfaces. Before setting off on a journey, the driver will send the coordinates of his or her location and destination via the Global Positioning System (GPS). The service then fetches an up-to-date map of the route with road conditions, accidents, traffic jams and road works information superimposed. The GPS then relays information between the driver and the service, which will provide up-to-date map and traffic lane information at intervals of 5 to 10 minutes for the remaining part of the journey. In addition to supplying information such as road obstacles and traffic jams from its atlas database, the system will also provide information on the likelihood of a sudden deterioration in driving conditions due to changing weather conditions. The prototype of the traffic information service developed by the project has been successfully tested on the motorway linking the Finnish cities of Turku and Helsinki. In another part of the project, the communications company Motorola and the car manufacturer Fiat will be testing a comparable traffic information service in the Italian city of Turin. The partners in the project include a mix of committed e-safety and location-based service providers (Finnish Road Enterprise); advanced research laboratories from the automotive industry (CRF - Italy); major geo-spatial players (TeleAtlas - Belgium, Italy; Genimap -Finland); large mobile telecommunication operators (WIND - Italy; Teliasonera - Finland); automotive and handset manufacturers (Motorola - Italy); medium-sized Location Based Services (LBS) system integrators (Netxcalibur -Italy; ICT Turku - Finland).