There are several
interesting applications that fall into the category of miscellaneous vertical industries.
We shall describe a few of these here:
- Automatic toll collection
- Smart card toll prepayment
- Satellite-based gps
Mobile Computing technology is now being used for
automatic toll collection. The New York Thruway Tool Collection project and the Easy Toll
project in the UK are two such examples. We shall illustrate this application with a
description of Easy Toll a consortium of Mobitex, Centre File (UK), and Green Flag
Ltd.. Easy Toll is a research project to test highway toll-collection technology.
The Easy Toll solution is based on the Robin (Road Billing Network)
system. It uses GPS and a RAM network and its objective is to keep the disruption of
traffic to a minimum. Unlike tag-based systems, it does not require the erection of a
roadside infrastructure, such as gantries fitted with detectors and interrogation
equipment. As a result, it is less expensive to install, according to the consortium.
A dashboard unit for the ROBIN system computes a vehicles
position and determines when a toll is required. The toll is calculated and deducted
automatically from a smart card on which prepayment has been made.
ROBIN Toll Collection System Architecture
The onboard unit (OBU) mounted on the vehicle
contains a processing unit and a smart-card reader. Connected to the unit are a GPS
receiver used for automatic vehicle location and a radio modem for communicating over the
Instead of the toll bars and bridges used in a conventional toll
system, ROBIN uses the satellite-based GPS (Global Positioning System) to determine when a
vehicle is on a toll road. A processing unit calculates the fees.
The Robin dashboard unit stores data which includes a geographic
description of the highway network, tariff structure, toll roads, and toll recipients.
This internal data is compared continuously with the vehicles current position. When
a toll is required, the dashboard unit calculates fees according to the distance traveled,
time of day, vehicle class and other tolling information such as entry into a tolled zone
of a city.
Two payment options are supported. Prepayment is accomplished using
a smart card from which the OBU deducts tolls during the trip. Transport companies and
other vehicle operators may also establish a billing account for postpayment with the road
operator or a bank. As tolls are incurred, billing information is sent from the vehicle
over the Mobitex network.
For occasional users, a simple tag system will be available. The tag
system eliminates the GPS receiver and radio modem and instead provides a 5.8 GHz
short-range communication system allowing information in the OBU to be queried at special
checkpoints. If information transmitted by the OBU is incorrect, the vehicle will be
registered as a violator.
Information Collection Telemetry
- Automated reading electricity/gas meters
Several utilities are experimenting with the
automated reading of electricity meters and gas meters. While the technology is feasible,
business cases are still being refined to support implementation. It would seem that the
most appropriate time to provide this capability would be when meters come due for upgrade
or replacement. The payback, of course, is in the cost savings that would result from
reductions in the number of visits by meter readers.
Electronic Maps for Real Estate, Insurance
- Geo-coding (a capability that results from the
merging of GPS and map information)
- Electronic maps
All Points Software Inc. And MapInfo Corporation
jointly developed FieldPack Mobile Professional, which is based on GPS. Using portable
computers, workers can input data on site and send information and/or queries to corporate
databases. Using Geocoding (a capability that results from the merging of GPS and map
information), database information, forms and images can be linked to specific geographic
coordinates visualized on electronic maps.
This application is useful for real estate agents, insurance
appraisers, service technicians, and other workers whose jobs are location dependent.
Temporary Events Sports, Exhibitions and Conferences
- Sporting event scores recorded and
communicated wirelessly to servers
Mobile notebooks are being used in sporting
competitions, including sailboat races and tennis matches where progress and/or scores are
recorded and communicated wirelessly to servers, which in turn feed information to
spectators and the news media. A Mobitex network was used at the International Swedish
Yacht race in 1994 to provide second-by-second progress reports. GPS receivers installed
on the yachts relayed information to the spectators on shore through wireless links. It is
anticipated that the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta will make extensive use of wireless
technology to transmit scores and other information to news rooms and other centers of
newspaper or magazine production.
Reporters covering the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings in
Normandy in 1995 used mobile data technology for their press coverage. They were able to
send copy directly from the scene without a wireline link by using a Mobitex radio data
Leaders at the 1995 G7 Economic Summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, used
Fujitsu Stylistic 500 pen computers linked via a LAN to communicate with their research
staff and to verify acts or call up charts to support their discussions. The application
was developed by Filbitron, a Toronto area VAR, using SMART2000 conferencing software from