TrafficSense: Rich Monitoring of Road and Traffic Conditions using Mobile Smartphones

MSR-TR-2008-59 |

We consider the problem of monitoring road and traffic conditions in a city. Prior work in this area has required the deployment of dedicated sensors on vehicles and/or on the roadside, or the tracking of mobile phones by service providers. Furthermore, prior work has largely focused on the developed world, with its relatively simple traffic flow patterns. In fact, traffic flow in cities of the developing regions, which comprise much of the world, tends to be much more complex owing to varied road conditions (e.g., potholed roads), chaotic traffic (e.g., a lot of braking and honking), and a heterogeneous mix of vehicles (2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, cars, buses, etc.). To monitor road and traffic conditions in such a setting, we present TrafficSense, a system that performs rich sensing by piggybacking on smartphones that users carry around with them. In this paper, we focus specifically on the sensing component, which uses the accelerometer, microphone, GSM radio, and/or GPS sensors in these phones to detect potholes, bumps, braking, and honking. TrafficSense addresses several challenges including virtually reorienting the accelerometer on a phone that is at an arbitrary orientation, and performing honk detection and localization in an energy efficient manner. We also touch upon the idea of triggered sensing, where dissimilar sensors are used in tandem to conserve energy. We evaluate the effectiveness of the sensing functions in TrafficSense based on experiments conducted on the roads of Bangalore, with promising results.