TfL and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue show the value of location


Cambridge Wireless Conference explores how mobile location data can be harnessed to predict the future

25 October 2013: Transport for London (TfL) and the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service joined speakers at the Cambridge Wireless ‘Locations and Beyond’ event this week sponsored by CSR, to explore how personal and vehicle tracking systems can be used to enhance customer services, improve safety and predict future locations and events.

In his presentation, Olaf Baars, Chief Fire Officer at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, stressed that in situations full of variables and uncertainty, the delivery of effective emergency services revolves around reliable and accurate location information.  Baars pointed to a range of technologies from satellite navigation, intelligent routing and Automatic Vehicle Location Systems (AVLS) to personal radio and GPS based systems that are being used to improve caller and incident location.   He also said that the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is interested in the use of new indoor positioning technology to provide accurate firefighter location and tracking, particularly in large complex buildings where GPS does not work. Consultancy firm Inperium, set up by Olaf Baars, is assisting UK based Omnisense that is currently using 2.4GHz wireless sensor network (WSN) technology and patented cluster positioning techniques, to provide accuracy to a metre or less without the  need for an expensive fixed infrastructure.

“Firefighters can find themselves in harsh, unfamiliar environments with extreme heat and humidity as well as zero visibility and limited air supply, so being able to know where they are and the available escape routes can be matter of life or death,”  said Olaf Baars. “What is equally, if not more important is the ability for commanders and safety officers to be able to track the progress of personnel within the building to inform tactical decision making and manage firefighter safety.”

Simon Reed, Head of Technical Services Group at Transport for London, explained how TfL is providing more detailed and accurate information to its customers by making use of location data from its iBus system, installed on over 8500 London buses carrying more than 6.3m passengers every day. The iBus system uses advanced algorithms based on GPS and GSM bus location data updated every 30 seconds, along with other relevant traffic information to provide accurate positioning and arrival times.

This information along with service updates is available via SMS and mobile and fixed web services as well as new Countdown screens being installed at some 2,500 stops. TfL has also launched an Application Programme Interface (API) that feeds the same data to third-parties that has already led to the development of over 190 smartphone ‘apps’.   The iBus system also enables TfL to manage the performance of bus operators as well as communicate with traffic signals for bus priority, help to identify and monitor congestion and even deliver ‘low bridge’ driver alarms.

“London operates one of the largest bus networks in the world and capturing precise location data and delivering accurate passenger information is helping to improve performance and increase passenger confidence and numbers,” said Simon Reed, Head of Technical Services Group at Transport for London. “We are also looking at new technologies such as 4G/LTE and the ability to harness more vehicle and passenger data to deliver more accuracy and value.”

Other speakers at the event included Dr. Rob Harle, from the University of Cambridge Computer Lab who talked about new infrastructure-free indoor location systems using inertial and opportunistic positioning; and Mirco Musolesi, from the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham who presented research on the possibilities of location prediction.

“Mobile phones are increasingly equipped with sensors, such as accelerometers, GPS receivers, proximity sensors and cameras, which can be used to sense and interpret peoples’ behaviour in real-time,” said Mirco Musolesi. “Information extracted from sensors can be used to model and predict movement patterns and provide a very rich set of multi-dimensional data, for applications such as personalised marketing, real-time support for policy-makers and health interventions.”

The introduction was given by Hamid Ahmadi, VP/Chief Innovation Officer at CSR, sponsors of the Cambridge Wireless event. And in a Fast Pitch session for location-based technologies three companies gave a three minute presentation: TravelAI, Omnisense and Passive Eye.

About Cambridge Wireless
Cambridge Wireless is a leading industry forum and vibrant community with a rapidly expanding network of companies actively involved in the development and application of wireless technologies. In addition to high level networking dinners and events, a strong educational programme and business development activities, Cambridge Wireless runs the annual Future of Wireless International Conference along with the prestigious Discovering Start-Ups programme and competition to support emerging, innovative wireless companies.

Over 15 Special Interest Groups focused on specific technologies and market sectors, also provide opportunities for members to meet, form partnerships to exploit new commercial opportunities, and share knowledge and information about the latest industry trends and hot topics. Cambridge Wireless has partnerships with other leading industry clusters and organisations around the world to extend its international reach and to keep members up to date with the latest global developments and business opportunities. For more information, please visit www.cambridgewireless.co.uk

 

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