Just when you have been told that cell phones can be dangerous to your safety while driving, some US states actually want you to use them to monitor road traffic. Transportation agencies from the states of Maryland, Virginia and Missouri plan to test technology that enables these agencies to track traffic by monitoring cell phone signals and mapping them against road grids.
This ‘event’ stresses the fact that mobile phone units can easily be used as tracking devices; but before privacy activists raise their arms, the planned new traffic system will only track large groups of cell phones and not individual ones. But how about safety while driving? The transportation agencies stress the fact that the mobile phones only need to be turned on and not necessarily in use.
On the positive side, such a traffic system can be of immense use. By being able to map the presence of huge clusters of cell phone signals against road grids, transportation agencies will be able to identify heavy traffic flow and thus advise drivers (via radio alerts or updated electronic road signs) to take a better route. According to Phil Tarnoff, director of the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology at the University of Maryland, the new traffic system can lower congestion in some locations by as much as 50%.