Portsmouth wireless buses
by Stuart Miles
The old phrase you wait for one bus and then three come along at once may soon be a thing of the past in Portsmouth as the City Council is implementing a wireless network across the city to keep track of its 300 buses.

The system, known as the Portsmouth Online Real Time Traveller (PORTAL) Information System, works by collecting data from receivers on the buses. The information is then wirelessly transmitted to the central servers at the Portsmouth City Council Traffic Control Centre. From here the data is processed and wirelessly transmitted to high-tech bus shelters that are equipped with monitors and freestanding kiosks with touch screen displays.

Each display will give passengers information on the buses location and estimated time of arrival as well as offering a number of additional services through the touch-screen display. Services planned for the screens will include information on alternative routes, a jobs board and a what's on guide. More services planned to be introduced later in the year.

Eventually the companies involved hope that the screens will display a map of the city and a “marker” for where the bus actually is, so passengers can see that it is caught at a set of traffic lights or road works further up the route.

Now Wireless, one of the firms involved in the deployment of the wireless network believes that this is just the start however:
“The wireless buses are just the beginning,” says Now Wireless director Brian Jackson. “With a wireless network across the city in place, running everything remotely from the traffic lights and parking meters will be possible without the expense of having to install cabling. Portsmouth City Council will also be able to provide wireless support like up to date traffic information or access to the council's databases for council workers on the streets and the emergency services”

Mobile business workers armed with their Wi-Fi enabled laptops hoping to take advantage of the city wide wireless blanket shouldn't pack their bags and head for the seaside town just yet though, as the system won't be accessible to public laptops.