In 1999, a study in Seattle, Washington indicated that participants who used traveler information devices including wrist watches, in-vehicle components, and portable computers found the information was useful for making travel decisions.
Made Public Date


United States

Seattle Wide-area Information For Travelers (SWIFT): Evaluation Summary

Summary Information

The Seattle Wide-area Information for Travelers (SWIFT) field operational test was an evaluation project of a large-scale advanced traveler information system. Deployed in the Seattle metropolitan area, SWIFT provided information on several transportation modes using three different devices. The devises included a wristwatch, an in-vehicle navigation system, and a PC based system. A FM sideband was used to transmit the messages to the receiving devices. Approximately 800 users were used to evaluate the effectiveness and user acceptance of the three devices.

The Seiko Message Watch is commercially available and widely used in the Seattle area to deliver personal paging and information services. Messages include weather forecasts, stock market summaries, sports scores, lotto numbers, etc. SWIFT traffic messages were featured as an added information service. Users provided information regarding usual routes, directions, and the days and times at which they traveled. Based on this profile, traffic related information was transmitted to the user.

The Delco in-vehicle navigation device incorporated a route-guidance component, GIS, SPS, and the vehicles speaker system to present real-time traffic information to users. The device included the ability to select destinations to provide directional guidance and location information. Real time traffic information was transmitted to the device receiver and filtered for information that was contained within a user defined radius of the vehicle location. Messages where transmitted every minute, however only new or updated messages were announced to the driver.

Portable computers received information regarding traffic incident, speed, congestion, and bus-location information. A high percentage of the PC-device users used a combination of modes on their trips to work. These users appeared to place a higher amount of importance on the receipt of incident and congestion information and less on general information than users of other devices.

In general users of the all three devices indicated that they found the information useful for making travel decisions. They also indicated a reduction in stress and travel time. Others changed routes based on provided information. Many users of the devices (especially Seiko Message Watch users) indicated that messages did not provide timely information. Some also question the accuracy of information displayed.

A full set of reports on the SWIFT project are available on the U.S. DOT's Electronic document library these include the Evaluation Summary, Architecture Study, Consumer Acceptance Study, Institutional Issues Study, Communications Study, and a cost related study.

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