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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

November 13, 2001 Contact: Paul Francuch (312) 996-3457; francuch@uic.edu


A University of Illinois at Chicago computer science professor, one of the world's top experts in the technology of tracking multiple mobile objects, has created a platform program that can greatly enhance the efficiency of location-based services like air traffic control, mobile commerce and fleet management.

Professor Ouri Wolfson is the founder and chief scientist at Mobitrac, a one-year-old Chicago-based company that was set up to commercialize technology developed through basic research at UIC. The university holds an equity stake in the company, which recently received seed funding from a venture capital firm, Arch Development Partners, and the Illinois Coalition, an agency that funds and supports high-tech start-up companies in the state. Last week, Mobitrac was named one of this year's top 50 emerging tech companies by the publication i-Street.

Wolfson's project is called the Mobile Resource Management Platform. Its range of uses spans everything from improvements in airline traffic control to multidimensional tracking of mobile resources, either human or machine.

"There currently are quite a few applications that deal with management of location information," said Wolfson. "There's air traffic control, all sorts of dispatch applications, fleet management and, increasingly, location-based services in which hand-held wireless devices are used to help locate specific places, such as the closest gas station. All these applications have a common core - they all deal with location of moving or mobile devices. The idea of the software we're developing is to capture and extract the commonalities of these diverse applications and produce a platform upon which future applications can be developed faster."

"There are isolated examples of systems being developed without a common framework. We're developing that common framework," he said.

Wolfson hopes his platform software will help companies, government agencies and the military save time and money by eliminating the need to write complicated new software programs from scratch, which is how mobile tracking software is presently written.

The new software combines functions such as pinpointing exact locations of vehicles, traveling employees, or specific goods and resources, along with commercially or strategically useful information such as tracking histories, work schedules and calendars. The goal is to improve the efficient use of resources and personnel.

"Ouri Wolfson's work and his commercialization efforts through Mobitrac are exciting," said Peter Nelson, head of UIC's department of computer science. "Wolfson is recognized as one of the world's top three computer scientists in the area of mobile object database technology."

Nelson strongly believes there are numerous application areas for the target software, including counter-terrorism applications such as real-time tracking of hazardous material shipments. "The ability to track such moving objects is critical to our homeland security," he said.

Wolfson's work is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army Research Labs.

- UIC -

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