Trapster: Speed Traps Go Cellular

April 3, 2008
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Drivers have long communicated the presence of police and radar traps with not so subtle signals: the flash of high-beam lights. Now, a new Web site says it's figured out how to warn drivers over the Web and over their cell phones about nearby speed traps.

Trapster is the new Web site created by Pete Tenereillo. The AP reports that Trapster requires drivers to punch a few keys on their phones to report photo radar, red-light cameras and speed traps. But then the information is fed into a database that can send alerts to cell phones of drivers approaching the traps.

Trapster uses cell phones, GPS and WiFi data to figure out locations, and mashes up the data against info from Skyhook Wireless. Speed trap info is kept in the database for an hour, while red-light camera info is kept indefinitely, the AP says.

The system's name takes off on Napster, the music-sharing service that allowed fans to trade music for free before it was shut down and converted to a pay site. Users can rate other users to improve the reliability of information on Trapster. And the data is usable on 10 different wireless platforms like Nokia's smart phones, Windows Mobile and RIM's BlackBerry.

Tenereillo says police don't mind his technology because at some point it causes drivers to slow down. Tell us what you think -- would you want speed-trap data beamed to your cell phone, or is it a useless distraction?

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