news for those who struggle every day through Shanghai's worsening
traffic. Things could soon get better, thanks to US company
TrafficCast, which has just deployed a traffic information system to help give authorities a better picture of snarl-ups in the Chinese metropolis.

The system uses the position data built into cellular networks to
track the locations of 10m China Mobile subscribers in Shanghai.

In this way, travel times and speeds can be calculated for all roads
within Shanghai's inner ring area. Don't worry: the data is collected
anonymously but if you want to opt out, then you have to switch off
your phone.

TrafficCast claims the Shanghai system is be the world's largest
implementation of so-called “traffic probe” technology. If it goes
well, then it hopes to do a nationwide roll-out with China Mobile,
which has 437m subscribers in the country.

Using its traffic probe technology, the company says that China
could leapfrog Japan , US and some European countries, which rely
heavily on traditional sensors for traffic data collection.

Interestingly, TrafficCast only has one foreign sales office and its
in China. Clearly, the country's worsening traffic is seen as a huge
opportunity for this privately-held firm.

Of course, knowing where and when traffic has slowed to a crawl is
not much help from those already stuck in the snarl-up. But its a
start, I suppose.

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