Last year when the Stony Brook University Transportation and Parking Student Advisory Committee made the suggestion that students would benefit from a real-time tracking system for transit buses and shuttles, University administrators wanted to help. They reached out to the research scientists at the University’s Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) and issued the challenge. This month, the solution to that challenge, SBU Smart Transit, a global positioning system (GPS) that tracks real-time SBU Transit bus and shuttle locations and passenger occupancy is being introduced campus wide.
The new GPS information system will be rolled out as a pilot on five buses this month. Mobile applications for iPhone, Android and Blackberry are also planned for release before summer 2012. Research and development for SBU Smart Transit has been underway since spring 2011. It is a collaborative effort among undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Department of Transportation and Parking Operations, and CEWIT. Jennifer Wong, assistant professor of computer science and CEWIT-affiliated faculty member, served as the project manager of the initiative.
“We identified the needs of our passengers and worked closely with the CEWIT team to harness their expertise in developing a solution that best fits the needs of the campus community,” said James O’Connor, director, Office of Sustainability, Facilities and Services Division. “With SBU Smart Transit, a student can be studying in the library or having coffee at the Student Activities Center and have instant access to the location and arrival of their next bus.”
SBU Smart Transit is comprised of multiple components, including wireless routers, automated passenger counters and card-reader technology, which automatically tallies passenger ridership. This information will be used to enhance services by pinpointing peak times of operation and usage patterns. A full software suite including a real-time web portal and mobile browser site was also created to aid both riders and transportation management.
“By building the project in house, students gained invaluable experience in constructing a real-world system,” said Wong. “The system architecture is designed to be flexible in order to incorporate new features and wireless technology advancements,” she said. “The project represents a great opportunity for continued systems education and University project collaboration.”
The GPS information system will be implemented in three phases beginning in late March with buses equipped on the Hospital/Chapin and Railroad routes. The second phase, beginning in fall 2012, will include the R&D Park Shuttle, Express Route and Inner Loop; and the final phase will be implemented in 2013 with the remainder of all SBU Transit routes.