Friday, March 04, 2011

Beijing to Track Citizens Through Cell Phones

Chinese authorities in Beijing will track its citizens through phones, using location data from telecom China Mobile, in a bid to ease traffic congestion but raising privacy concerns over misuse.
The project, called the "Beijing Residents Real-time Travel Information Platform," will aggregate information on mobile users' movements around the Beijing, including their time of departure, destination and means of transport. Municipal officials hope to use this information to understand population flow at different times of the day and in certain parts of the city.
Tests will take place in two highly-populated districts in June and the plan could go a long way towards redeeming Beijing's reputation as the worst traffic blackspot in the world. Last year, it notoriously suffered a nine-day, 62-mile-long traffic jam.
"By sending dynamic travel information to citizens, they can adjust their trip plan in downtown areas to effectively relieve traffic congestion," said Li Guo-guang, deputy director of the Commission. "It is also fairly beneficial for population management. Information obtained through the mobile phone location is more thorough in terms of figuring out the population of a certain dwelling district."

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