An idea for tracking buses to provide real time schedule information
1. Put QR codes on the outside of buses.
2. Use red light cameras and traffic cameras to capture QR codes as the buses drive by.
3. Update a database that powers an app to deliver real time arrival estimates and bus locations to mobile and desktop clients.
Somebody holding up a fake QR code. Since there’s no two way communication, we can’t exchange nonces so every QR code is subject to a replay attack. However, QR codes aren’t the only solution. Mobile technologies have spurred all kinds of investment and research into personal area network technologies like NFC and Bluetooth.
I’ve heard that bus driver unions don’t want their people tracked. They have to realize that with the economy the way it is and with the electorate in such a foul mood, public subsidies of transit systems will be reduced. Thus the only way to increase ridership and revenues is to make the service more attractive. One frequent complaint is the unpredictability of bus systems. Tracking buses in real time can go a long way towards solving that problem. I’m sure traffic engineers can also come up with some way to use the data.