News Detail

Interview with João Barreto (INESC-ID), TRACE project coordinator

João Barreto from INESC-ID (Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores, Investigação e Desenvolvimento em Lisboa, an institute dedicated to advanced research and development in the fields of Information Technologies, Electronics, Communications, and Energy) presents the prototype tool being developed within the TRACE project.

Which are the main features of the prototype tool that you have developed in the TRACE project?

Essentially, the prototype provides a full set of features that usually underlie a typical behaviour-change mobile application that is based on tracking. The prototype includes the tracker component itself, which is the heart of the mobile application running with each citizen at his/her smartphone. This component is able to track where and how the user is moving around.

What is the particular innovation in the prototype?

There are a number of ways in which the prototype is innovative. Perhaps the most outstanding one is that it is an open source framework designed to allow future tracking-based applications to be quickly and easily built and deployed.

Does this tool help reducing the complexity of big data that is collected during the tracking?

Yes, and this is done in a number of ways. Firstly, at the mobile app, the collected traces are compressed such that their upload to the back-end server is optimised for lower battery consumption and network usage. But the crucial step is the huge amount of data being collected from numerous participants and different campaigns. We tackle this by employing several advanced techniques to process such high volumes of data efficiently.

How does it allow for the seamless participation of citizens in the tracking process?

Ideally, citizens should be able to participate without feeling that the application is interfering with their common use of their smartphones. Battery consumption is usually the most relevant way in which tracking-based apps disturb the users. The main reason is that these apps usually require accurate GPS traces, which have a significant energy cost to capture.

How does this prototype help provide secure and reliable tracking?

From the assessment stages of the project we focused on reducing fraud by relying on techniques that try to automatically detect the current mode of transport of a user based on information collected from the sensors. Since most behaviour-change campaigns for sustainable mobility depend on accurately inferring each user’s modality, having accurate and resilient techniques to guess that information is a major feature.

João Barreto is an Assistant Professor at the Computer and Information Systems Department at the Technical University of Lisbon and a researcher at INESC-ID.

To read the full interview, click here