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Nokia seeks helpers for real-time traffic survey

Finnish phone maker wants you... and your mobile

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Nokia has launched a project to study ways to create a more detailed real-time picture of road traffic conditions. And it wants you to take part.

The Mobile Millennium scheme will collect and study traffic data from GPS-enabled mobile devices, and has been planned in conjunction with the University of California, Berkeley.

According to Nokia, traditional traffic monitoring systems, including pavement sensors and roadside radars, are expensive to install and maintain, yet only providing sketchy traffic information.

But by making use of phones already embedded with GPS technology, Nokia aims to get a much more detailed - and cheaper - view of which roads are congested at, say, 9am on Thursday mornings.

Participants will be able to contribute road-traffic information wherever they can get network coverage. Traditional monitoring systems, by contrast, provide data about their immediate vicinity only, and often aren’t installed on small country roads.

Anyone can take part in Mobile Millennium, although US residents appear to be the phone firm’s main focus for now. You’ll need to have a GPS-enabled mobile and must be willing to run a Java application related to the project on it.

A launch date hasn't been announced yet, but Mobile Millennium will run for between four and six months. Details of how to take part can be found online.

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