The City of Calgary has activated a Bluetooth tracking technology to give Calgarians real-time travel information during their commute.
This innovative technology collects publicly available information from Bluetooth devices and estimates travel times and congestion. These times are then displayed on electronic signs at key locations.
The benefits of this technology to Calgarians are:
Bluetooth detection sign with estimated travel times
- Improved ability for drivers to make informed route planning choices.
- Decreased driver frustration.
- Collection of transportation data for planning purposes.
- Reduction of drivers using handheld devices to predict traffic during their commute.
Based on a successful pilot project using Bluetooth technology to monitor and display travel times for drivers, The City has installed Bluetooth travel time systems along Deerfoot Trail, and most recently, along Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail.
See current travel times along Deerfoot, Crowchild and Glenmore Trails.
Bluetooth system FAQ
All Bluetooth devices (GPS, cell phones, hands-free mobile devices, etc) have a unique ID code assigned to them. The City’s Bluetooth detection system reads this code at various points along the route where Bluetooth sensors are installed. This data is collected at a central server at The City’s Traffic Management Centre. Our software then calculates the average travel time between specific points, and displays this information on the electronic signs.
Bluetooth ID codes are anonymous. They are not assigned to individuals, but rather in blocks to specific factories / manufacturers. There is no central database of Bluetooth ID numbers, and The City does not have any way of matching a citizen’s name or personal information with their specific Bluetooth device.
Citizens concerned with privacy can set options in their device (referred to as ‘Discovery Mode’ or ‘Visibility’) so that the device will not be detected by the Bluetooth system.
The Bluetooth system was found to be consistently accurate during the pilot project on Deerfoot trail in 2010, and was found to be consistently accurate when tested during construction on 16 Avenue North and Deerfoot Trail. The system becomes increasingly accurate as more people use Bluetooth devices.
Travel times can be updated as often as once a minute, but are dependent on the number of Bluetooth-enabled devices present at any given time. Once the permanent Bluetooth detection system is in operation, The City will have a better estimate of how often the travel times are updated.
The signs on Deerfoot Trail are permanent installations, while the signs on Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail are not. The City was able to repurpose some existing signs for this project. If funding becomes available in the future, there may be an opportunity to install permanent travel time signage on Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail.
Deerfoot Trail: travel time information system
The Deerfoot Trail travel time system consists of 15 sensors and seven permanent message boards from Airport Trail in the northeast to Barlow Trail in the southeast.
The system operates from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
The Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail travel time system
Five new Bluetooth travel time signs have been placed in key locations along Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail.
- Westbound Glenmore Trail at 18 Street S.E. – showing travel times to Crowchild Trail and Bow Trail.
- Eastbound Glenmore Trail before Crowchild Trail – showing travel times to Deerfoot Trail and 24 Avenue N.W.
- Southbound Crowchild Trail at 24 Avenue N.W. – showing travel times to 17 Avenue South and Glenmore Trail.
- Southbound Crowchild Trail at Richard Road– showing travel times to Glenmore Trail and Deerfoot Trail.
- Northbound Crowchild Trail and 54 Avenue S.W. - showing travel times to Memorial Drive and 24 Avenue N.W.
The new system is operational on weekdays, during the morning and afternoon rush hours (6:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.)