Photos: Nokia's Mobile Century traffic project

Photos: Nokia's Mobile Century traffic project

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It's not often that you get people volunteering to get stuck in traffic. However, that's exactly what happened today in Northern California. About 150 students from the University of California at Berkeley participated a project devised to test the potential of using GPS-enabled, internet-connected cell phones as aids for reporting real-time information on traffic congestion. The test by the university was done in collaboration with Nokia, and the California Transportation Department. Real-time traffic services are nothing new. Services from Satellite companies, such as XM and Sirius, as well as maps from Google and Yahoo provide color-coded estimates of traffic flow and congestion in certain major urban areas. The trouble is these data feeds rely on a complex infrastructure of roadside, and pavement-mounted sensors and cameras, which cost a lot of money to install and maintain. As we found in recent field test , they're also not always completely accurate. Today's project, known as "Mobile Century," was designed to test the accuracy and viability of using a network of unmodified Nokia N95 smartphones as anonymously-reporting probes in a real-world traffic environment. Check out our photo gallery and CNET News.com video to get a glimpse of the possible future for real-time traffic services.

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