Post Oak Traffic Systems Anonymous Wireless Address Matching (AWAM) product currently utilizes the Media Access Control (MAC) address of enabled Bluetooth devices to determine average travel times and speeds on roadways. The MAC address is a unique identifier assigned to every Ethernet network interface, including Bluetooth adapters. The MAC addresses read by AWAM are not directly associated with a specific user and do not contain any personal data or information that could be used to identify or "track" an individual’s whereabouts.
Unlike the applications on a smart phone that use the GPS functionality, AWAM does not have the ability to “track” vehicles or devices everywhere they go. Also, unlike these applications, AWAM cannot correlate a device address with an individual or vehicle so determining who the device belongs to is virtually impossible. Alternative methods for gathering traffic data, such as those used by GPS (which is utilized by virtually every smart phone) or license plate recognition are more likely to warrant privacy concerns.
The methods used by AWAM search for MAC addresses within proximity of the AWAM reader and do not poll any other information from the Bluetooth device. Each Bluetooth device record collected by AWAM contains the timestamp, device reader location, and MAC address of the device. By calculating the time difference of individual MAC address reads as they traverse a roadway, AWAM is able to determine vehicle travel times.
To ensure privacy, all MAC addresses collected by AWAM are anonymized immediately upon receipt. This ensures that actual device addresses are not sent or stored anywhere—rather a random set of characters. Most Bluetooth devices are also able to turn off the Bluetooth discovery function which prevents them from being detected by AWAM at all.