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32 SigAlert.com required software and hardware to be physically connected by direct communication such as dedicated phone lines SigAlert.com provides personalized traffic reports through- or coaxial cable. As a result, development and operational out all of California, including speed maps in major cities. costs were high, economies of scale were limited in software SigAlert offers speed maps and traffic incident summaries development, and the industry saw a limited reuse of source over the Internet and cellular phones, and sends personalized code. The introduction of the Internet and the ubiquitous traffic reports to various devices, including cellular phones, nature of Internet connectivity have created an environment pagers, and PDAs. in which technology applications can rapidly develop and evolve. Therefore, many emerging technologies have been made possible because of the Internet, including such things Emerging Technologies And Devices as e-mail messages, mobile access to the Internet, Internet accessible event entry systems, and an assortment of traveler Each month, new and innovative technologies reach the information websites offering various options of services. marketplaces that change user behavior. One example was the affordable introduction of cellular telephones in the late Although the rapid increase in Internet use from the time 1980s and early 1990s. The use of the cellular telephone it was introduced to the general public in the early 1990s has increased connectivity and communication of individuals been rapid, Internet connectivity is still a relatively new ser- tremendously. Less than 20 years later, basic cell phones vice. Also, over this time, access to the Internet has changed now are considered outdated and users demand additional from being primarily low bandwidth in the early years to handheld services such as e mail, Internet, and text mes- more recent high-bandwidth connections. It is likely that the saging. The potential for technologies 20 years from now general population's use of the Internet will continue to fluc- is endless. tuate until finally settling into a stable and predictable pat- tern. Indications also suggest that the target market and user The rapid, creative, and commercially lucrative indus- expectations will vary by region throughout the world [e.g., try of emerging technologies offers many options for trav- rural versus urban; northern (winter weather) states versus eler information providers and also several challenges. As southern]. an example, the use of e-mail and text-messaging delivery allows traveler information systems to reach many travelers Digital Cellular Phones as an Enabler using inexpensive devices (saving considerable costs when compared with the costs of long-distance minutes on a land A second technology advancement that has been responsible line phone system). Similarly, the penetration of the Inter- for enabling many emerging products and services is the cov- net offers another low-cost option to reach large numbers of erage of digital cellular phone service throughout the United travelers. Furthermore, the Internet allows travelers to view States. The digital backbone of communications has enabled graphics, such as camera images, providing a view of condi- the use of text messaging, mobile Internet access, and cell tions that simply could not be described on a phone system. phones as probes, and essentially has introduced an afford- able method for delivering mobile traveler information. The From the opposite perspective, rapidly evolving emerg- end products that can be developed are nearly endless. En route ing technologies often create expectations from travelers traveler information delivery can now be accomplished by cre- that public agencies will deliver information to a brand-new ating an e-mail push application that delivers text and e-mail device. As a result, DOTs may be pressured to deploy addi- messages to cellular phones. As recent as 15 years ago, options tional services and bear the costs of such services to respond for en route information delivery were limited and expensive. to the volumes of requests. Accurate and Comprehensive Mapping Databases as Travelers interact daily with a number of end-user applica- Enablers tions that take the form of vendor-specific products and ser- vices. Before describing a sample of the emerging products The third enabler to emerging technologies covered in this and services, this section describes three enablers that have report is the existence of detailed maps and map attributes been instrumental in supporting recent emerging technolo- for the United States. By 2008, travelers were regularly using gies and that will continue to be instrumental in the future. online products such as Google Maps or Mapquest to view turn-by-turn directions to their final destination. Although Internet as an Enabler the applications that deliver these services to the traveling public are impressive, the real enabler to all forms of online The Internet and the ability to create web software that can directions, in-vehicle navigation systems, and personal navi- be accessed instantly by anyone with an Internet connection gation systems is accurate maps and associated attributes. have changed the software industry. Early traveler informa- The existence of these maps has enabled many technologies tion systems (both operational tests and deployments) often and will continue to do so in the future.
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33 Emerging Products and Services mate travel times. Early deployments and demonstrations occurred in 2008. In-Vehicle Navigation Systems with Traffic Information The advantages of these and other wireless devices that In-vehicle navigation systems offer travelers on-screen map assist in the reporting of travel times is that the number of displays identifying the position of the vehicle, offer point- these devices is always increasing, and therefore the accu- to-point driving directions, and estimate arrival times. Many racy and geographic coverage of quality reports is increasing navigation systems report the vehicle speed [calculated from as well. a global positioning system (GPS)], altitude, and direction of travel. In addition, the navigation systems available today Even with the emerging travel-time approaches and offer wireless (e.g., Bluetooth) communication capabilities strategies, a considerable gap still exists between the need that allow drivers and passengers to use the navigation sys- for travel times nationwide and the emergence of a clear tem, speakers, and microphone to talk on their Bluetooth- plan of action that would deliver nationwide travel-time equipped cellular telephone. In addition, if text messages are information. received to the phone while the phone is connected to the navigation system, the text messages can scroll across the Personalized Text Message and Support Tools bottom of the navigation screen. Therefore, in-vehicle navi- gation systems offer a tremendous assistance to travelers. If It is estimated that 255 million people subscribe to handheld travelers receive text messages of incidents or alerts from devices such as cell phones, smart phones, pagers, and PDAs. traveler information systems, the in-vehicle navigation sys- Each device offers different applications allowing users to tem is part of the information delivery process. Perhaps the send or receive information. Devices with web browsers pro- largest impact of navigation systems on the traveler infor- vide users with the capability of viewing real-time traveler mation industry centers on the integration with real-time information websites. Washington State, Oregon, and Idaho traffic reports. In-vehicle navigation systems typically can represent examples of three states with websites dedicated be upgraded or configured to receive real-time notifications solely to the mobile web browsers that are found on cellular of traffic, speeds, and incidents and to display these events phones. Also, handheld devices now exist that display full on the navigation map. The data are typically received by Internet sites, allowing travelers access to any traveler infor- wireless FM radio, cellular phone, or Sirius/XM satellite mation website while mobile. broadcasts. Typically, a monthly service charge applies and the real-time traffic reports are available only in a limited Most digital cellular phones allow text messaging. number of cities. Monthly rate plans offer competitive pricing and, as a result, text messaging is commonplace among travelers ranging in Navigation systems are no longer limited to in-vehicle age from elementary school children to the elderly. It is esti- devices. Portable navigation systems may be used outside mated that in the United States 48 billion text messages are vehicles. Most recently, many cellular phones now offer GPS sent monthly, compared with an estimated monthly total of location services and a navigation feature, allowing a cellu- 9.8 billion monthly text messages 2 years ago. The benefits lar phone to perform the services of an in-vehicle navigation of text messaging are that it is low cost, portable, nonintru- device. sive (messages can be sent and responded to when conve- nient), and quick to perform. Some push systems are capable Travel Time Detection Using Wireless Devices of sending traffic and travel messages using text messaging. In addition, some private sector services offer automated Transportation agencies often calculate travel times in metro text-messaging replies (e.g., Google). Anyone can send a areas where speed, volume, or occupancy sensors exist at text message to Google with the flight number of any flight a density that will support accurate calculations. In areas on any airline. The Google automated system will automati- lacking sensors, however, public agencies are challenged cally and immediately reply with the most recent available to produce accurate travel-time estimates. A number of information describing the arrival and departure status of the approaches have been conceived, tested, and implemented flight and the gate at which the flight will arrive or depart. A to detect travel times using wireless devices. For example, similar system is possible for traveler information systems. cellular phones that are continuously transmitting signals Travelers could text an automated service and specify the that identify the telephone offer an opportunity to track the route and segment they are planning to travel, and receive a progression of phones and estimate a travel time. Electronic text reply summarizing the conditions. Text messaging is a toll tags that communicate (actively or passively) with toll major means of communicating. It offers a quick, low-cost readers offer another option for estimating travel times. option for reaching travelers; however, it has the potential to Most recently, new technologies and approaches to track create information overload in that travelers already receive Bluetooth devices in vehicles are emerging that can esti- a large number of text messages.