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Vertical Applications

Miscellaneous Industry Applications

There are several interesting applications that fall into the category of miscellaneous vertical industries. We shall describe a few of these here:

Automated Toll Collection

  • 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 vehicle’s 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 Mobitex network.

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 vehicle’s 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.

Automated 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 Appraisers, Etc.

  • 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.

Special 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 network.

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 SMART Technologies.


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