Statewide Vehicle Bluetooth Data Collection Study

MARLIN’s Statewide Vehicle Bluetooth Data Collection study, prepared for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), tested the potential implementation of a statewide freight measurement tool to monitor highway performance and assess the impacts of transportation investments. The main objective of the project was to develop and test the feasibility of deploying a statewide monitoring network across Florida with a focus on freight activity between Florida’s seaports, regions and across the State line. In addition, this study was tasked with a secondary effort to test the feasibility of isolating and monitoring cruise passenger trips across the state.

BlueMac devices were used to determine origin/destination trips and other traffic factors. These devices capture a unique (MAC) address from every vehicle with a Bluetooth device on board and translate it to a remote server. Travel time and speed are calculated by comparing the time at which a specific vehicle is detected by a pair of BlueMac detectors. Locations were strategically selected to capture truck activity on ports and cruise terminals to achieve the resulting data.

Study challenges included: a deployment covering a large geographic area that ranged from Pensacola to Miami (670+ miles) and from Jacksonville to Southwest Florida (450+ miles); identifying “truck” and “cruise” traffic; and, filtering and calibrating a data base with millions of records of data to identify reasonable estimates of truck movements and cruise passenger vehicles.

This pilot project successfully collected and identified freight and cruise movements throughout the state, first by isolating truck traffic movements at key seaport access points and then by calibrating the collected data through several techniques including: the co-location of additional video detection technology to verify truck movement data; manual traffic/truck observations; and, from data collected and matched to co-located Telemetered Traffic Monitoring Sites (TTMS) and Portable Traffic Monitoring Sites (PTMS) data.

The resulting robust data set of more than 25 million records reflects the movements of almost four million unique vehicles detected at multiple locations over the 35 day period. In addition, the resulting data set is rich and versatile as it has the ability to be used to analyze speed, travel time, origin/destination and distribution patterns for each site and for corridor, regional, inter-regional and interstate studies over a month, week, weekend, weekday and peak and off-periods and will provide FDOT with baseline data and information for a variety of comparative transportation analyses, as well as calibration and validation of the statewide freight model and cruise market analyses.

A series of recommendations focused on exciting opportunities for expanded use and deployment of the technology have been developed that support FDOT’s planning and programming responsibilities. In addition, the benefits of Bluetooth technology to other areas of FDOT, the State and its stakeholders include:

  • Data to enhance and validate the Statewide Freight Model;
  • Data to calibrate freight trip lengths in the Statewide Freight Model;
  • Better understanding of national and interregional freight movements between urban areas;
  • Monitor freight activity on the SIS, Interstate and National Freight Network facilities;
  • Potential for utilization for emergency management before, during and after major events; and,
  • Potential for enhancing Florida’s Future Corridors program, prioritization on the SIS, the Florida Freight Mobility and Trade Plan and federally required performance measures.

“Information generated from this project and its analyses will set the basis for future strategic planning, investment, and performance measurements of vehicle movement throughout the State of Florida.” – Jeffrey Weidner, Deputy Project Manager.

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