Phone data helping traffic

Driver’s phone data will be used by York City Council in an attempt to ease the city’s traffic jams.

York City Council plans to use phone signals from drivers and passengers to track vehicle movements and reduce the amount of traffic.

Mobile phone data will be collected from the internet or roadside detectors fitted to bollards, lights and other street equipment.

In each phone there is a unique code, called a MAC address, that broadcasts while searching for wi-fi networks or Bluetooth devices. The code will be collected from the phones in vehicles and used to collect data about vehicle movements.

The data will be used to implement changes like traffic light sequences, road improvements and junction re-designs to move traffic more smoothly. The system will also collect data about weather patterns so that traffic light sequences can be changed to accommodate the weather conditions.

Drivers and passengers can opt out of the new system by switching off their Bluetooth and wifi on their devices.

A grant of £450,000 from the Department for Transport will fund a pilot scheme for the A59 entering York. The plan is for the scheme to then expand across the city, funded by £2.85m from the Government. If the plan is successful, it could be introduced across the country.

Ian Gillies, leader of the city council, said, ‘Being able to build things like traffic light signalling based on the journeys people really make every day will mean better decisions, less congestion and improved air quality. We can’t simply build more roads in the city, so this is a really innovative way to get the city moving as efficiently as possible.’