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New app to take city’s traffic pulse

University of Calgary researchers are developing a smartphone application that could give Calgary commuters a real-time beat on traffic flow, road conditions and accidents.

University of Calgary researchers are developing a smartphone application that could give Calgary commuters a real-time beat on traffic flow, road conditions and accidents.

Known as TrafficPulse, the project relies on voluntary GPS tracking of smartphone users in the city. Users simply press a button as they begin their commute to allow their progress to be tracked.

On the road, drivers can also provide updates on road conditions and accidents with the simple press of a button, said lead researcher Steve Liang, who works out of the U of C’s Schulich School of Engineering.

“In the future, we can actively notify users if something’s wrong ahead,” he said.

The project has caught the attention of city officials, who met with the TrafficPulse team for an update last week.

Troy McLeod, the city’s manager of traffic, said TrafficPulse could someday provide Calgarians with a real-time map of commuting conditions.

“We could put that information out on our advanced traveller information system, and people could check ahead of time before they leave,” he said, noting that this is the next step on the heels of the Deerfoot Trail travel-time pilot project the city carried out in November.

Liang said the biggest challenge now is to gather participants. For that, the team has developed a social networking game, called Green Karma, in which users are rewarded for providing updates.

“If we have enough participants, we can get a real-time traffic flow for the entire city,” he said.

 
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