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Home Explore Tetra Tech EBA Technical Digest EBA Special Edition 2011 Application of Bluetooth Detection Technology to Monitor Traffic Patterns around the City of Red Deer

Application of Bluetooth Detection Technology to Monitor Traffic Patterns around the City of Red Deer


Alberta Transportation is conducting a transportation network study of the area surrounding the City of Red Deer. The purpose of this network study is to determine the long-term provincial transportation needs and function of roads within the study area. It was determined that a travel cordon study would assist in this network study for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of motorists’ travel patterns around Red Deer.


Traffic monitors, which detect vehicles with Bluetooth enabled devices, were placed at each entry/exit point surrounding Red Deer. These traffic monitors are capable of recording and time stamping Bluetooth Media Access Control (MAC) addresses, which are unique identifiers of consumer electronic devices (i.e. navigation systems, cell phones, computers, personal digital assistants, and car radios). Bluetooth transceivers continuously transmit their MAC address for the purpose of identifying a device which to communicate with, even when it is already engaged in communication with another device. So any vehicle containing a Bluetooth enabled device can be detected by a BluFax unit as it goes by a deployment site, regardless of which direction it is travelling, within a range of 100 meters.


Traffic flow around Red Deer can be monitored as vehicles with Bluetooth enabled devices are recorded as they pass the deployment sites. A GPS timestamp is recorded as a Bluetooth enabled device is detected. This enables individual vehicle flow patterns to be determined from one location to the next by pinpointing common MAC addresses with GPS timestamps at each of the deployment sites. By grouping this data together, volumes can be established between sites and a representative sample of the overall traffic volumes can be calculated for the cordon area.


This paper discusses the findings of this cordon study using Bluetooth technology to monitor traffic patterns.

Additional Info

  • Category: 9
  • Authors: Paul H. A. Steel, M. Eng., P.Eng., Peter Kilburn, P.Eng., M.Sc.E., Orlando Rodriguez, E.I.T.
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