Although talking on a cellphone while driving is illegal in some states, a new traffic-avoidance system being tested in a few municipalities could benefit from drivers at least leaving their phones switched on. Transportation agencies in Maryland and Virginia are starting to use a new technology that can monitor traffic by pinpointing cell-phone signals and plotting that data on roadway maps. A shiteload of red dots near the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, for example, would likely mean a massive volume delay. Or everyone just spotted Jennifer Aniston tongue-kissing Ernest Borgnine in his RV.
Sounds like a pretty elegant solution for a complex problem — notwithstanding the chore of culling data from multiple carriers. Still, as the New York Times's Matt Richtel points out, there could be serious right-to-privacy implications to the government knowing where large masses of people are going at one time. Jeez, overthrowing Big Brother is gonna be so hard now, but getting to Washington on I-95 will be totally sweet.
Tracking phones for traffic reports [International Herald Tribune]
Forcasting Traffic Flow [Center for Transportation Studies: University of Virginia]
How Los Angeles Keeps the Traffic Kind of Moving [internal]