Bluetooth tech used to collect real-time travel data on traffic flows during Victoria’s Big Build

    Often I write about the latest news, but occasionally, like this article, you’ll see me write about cool applications of existing technologies.

    Right now, Victoria is in the midst of a major infrastructure uplift, known as ‘Victoria’s Big Build’ which even got its own website –

    Projects under this program include Major updates to road and rail, including underground tunnels. When you change infrastructure at this scale, it’s impossible to execute without impacting the commuters in a major city.

    Managing these changes and ultimately disruptions to the transport network involves detours around roadworks. These disruptions to Australia’s most populated major city, are so significant, they even have a dedicated Disruptions Map, Calendar and dedicated page on the website.

    While many of our major highways have CCTV feeds to monitor traffic flows, this isn’t available everywhere, so the Victorian Government deployed Bluetooth technology to monitor vehicle movements and monitor congestion along these modified routes, at one stage back in 2016, the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan MP, even encouraged Victorians to switch on Bluetooth before leaving home.

    While this may alert those security-conscious people, the reality is this technology does not know or care about you as a person and has access to nothing more than a Bluetooth hardware ID in your phone.

    This technology works by positioning a series of Bluetooth receivers along a given route, then watching (and timing) how long it takes for a particular BT Address or ID, to move from one known location to the next, and the next and so on. From this data, it’s possible to derive the speed of traffic flows and identify choke points that need addressing.

    The Bluetooth Device Address, (sometimes referred to as a Bluetooth MAC address) is a unique 48-bit identifier assigned to each Bluetooth device by the manufacturer. Bluetooth Addresses are usually displayed as 6 bytes written in hexadecimal and separated by colons (example – 00:11:22:33:FF:EE). They are an essential part of Bluetooth-based protocols.

    The upper half of a Bluetooth Address (most-significant 24 bits) is the so-called Organizationally Unique Identifier (OUI). It can be used to determine the manufacturer of a device (Bluetooth MAC Address Lookup form).

    OUI prefixes are assigned by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). An EUI (Extended Unique Identifier) is generally made from an OUI and thus a Bluetooth Address is also an EUI-48. A device that has a Bluetooth address can also have it own Ethernet MAC address.

    This is a smart application of the technology that was really intended to connect your phone or laptop to wireless devices like headphones or speakers. The great thing about this is it requires no input from the user, you don’t need to join any BT networks, just the act of passing by is enough.

    In the most recent progress update, Victoria’s Big Build highlights some of the big work completed recently in Melbourne’s West.

    • Tunnelling for the West Gate Tunnel is finished, and we’re now fitting out the tunnels for traffic.
    • The elevated road section above Footscray Road is almost finished. Footscray Road will reopen to traffic in mid June.
    • A total of 15 level crossings have been removed across Melbourne’s west, in Derrimut, Deer Park, St Albans, Laverton Sunbury, Williamstown, Werribee and more.

    If you think the traffic is bad in Melbourne now, just wait till Taylor Swift arrives.

    You can get more information on Victoria’s Big Build here at

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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