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SafeRide Tracking Project Nears End of Beta Testing

By Calvin G. Sizer

The Shuttletrack project, which provides real-time tracking of the locations of SafeRide and Tech Shuttle on the Internet, is nearing the end of its beta testing.

The project, sponsored by the Microsoft-MIT iCampus Alliance, is currently available for use at http://shuttletrack.mit.edu.

“We have solved the biggest part of the challenge,” said Krishnan Sriram G, a member of the project. “Shuttletrack gives a rough idea of the time vans will show up at a particular stop,” he said.

Beta testing should be complete within the next few weeks, he said. “Our hope is May 6,” said Salil Soman G, also a member of the project, referring to the day when iCampus projects will give public presentations of their progress.

Program already in use

Students have already begun to use Shuttletrack while it is in beta testing.

“I think it’s really good when it’s up,” said Stephanie T. Yeh ’06. “Simmons is so far. I use it when I’m in my dorm and running a little late. It helps save time.”

Phillip W. Hum ’06 said, “Yeah, I’m lazy. I use Shuttletrack, and that makes me even more lazy. If you time it just right, you can run down right when it comes out.”

Sriram said that he encourages students to use Shuttletrack while it is in beta testing. “We would like to have people visit the site and send comments and corrections on how the site works on different browsers and platforms,” he said.

Shuttletrack ready for next year

The Shuttletrack designers said that they look forward to seeing the project continue after they graduate.

“We’re hoping for a sustainable model, so that the project will continue in the future,” Sriram said. “We hope students who are interested take on the project, fine-tune it, and add more creative ideas that interface with this project.”

The MIT parking and transportation office has plans to maintain the Shuttletrack project.

“It will be put on our Web site,” said Lawrence R. Brutti, the operations manager for parking and transportation. Brutti said that MIT will take over maintenance and further improvement of the project sometime in the next year.

“It will be a valuable tool for SafeRide and Tech Shuttle users,” he said.

Sriram said that Shuttletrack may have other uses. “Shuttletrack also creates a lot of data that may be used for transportation research projects,” he said.

As the Tech Shuttle and SafeRide are subject to the local weather and traffic conditions, possible ideas for using the data include tracking when and why the shuttles do not always arrive at their stops on time.

Sriram said that Shuttletrack could provide interesting data that may be useful in understanding different transportation patterns.