Houstonian Corner (Volume 13 Issue 36)

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

AWAM Makes Houston a Leader in Traffic Technology

Houston, Texas (Jalopnik): A massive wall of video screens displays real-time images from a network of cameras, while employees look at a million points of data on their own computers. It’s Houston’s other mission control, and they’ve now got a new tool to combat congestion: your Bluetooth device.

Companies such as Trapster and Google use cell phone GPS information to monitor traffic conditions, with varying results, but no one has tried snatching real-time data directly from Bluetooth devices along a network of sensors the way Houston’s cutting edge TranStar traffic monitoring center is currently doing it.

Anonymous Wireless Address Matching (AWAM) takes the individual MAC address on Bluetooth-enabled systems like phones, hands-free devices, computers, and even Sony PSP Go gaming devices and tracks them as they enter a roadway equipped with a sensor.

If you’ve got your iPhone in your pocket and you drive along Interstate 45 leaving downtown Houston the system records a version of your MAC address.

When you cross another sensor it records you again, recognizing you as the same vehicle. It then takes your speed between the two points and averages it with everyone else passing through the same two points.

This new approach provides Houston with a cheaper, more accurate, and more detailed traffic view than other car monitoring systems such as Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) technology, which the region also uses to monitor traffic.

“[AWAM is] dirt cheap!” said David Fink, with the Texas Department of Transportation Houston District. “If our current multi-lane AVI sensors cost $75,000 on the cheap end to install, the most expensive version of the AWAM with solar power and Wi-Fi costs $8,000.”

The costs get even cheaper when the sensor can be added to a normal traffic box, averaging around $1,000 a piece, or 75 times less than a cheap AVI sensor. This potential savings was the main impetus for creating a new system, although it provides other advantages as well.

“Unlike other sensor methods, this system is asynchronous (continually asking and receiving information,” said Texas Transportation Institute Research Scientist Darryl Puckett. “Every (MAC) address detected is processed instantaneously.”

They’ve attempted to overload the system with MAC addresses but, at 6,000-per-second, the system still works. The more data, the more accurate, and the first set of sensors rolled in West Houston and along I-45 have produced a lot of data.

“The accuracy, once we developed an algorithm that eliminated the outliers, has been consistent because the accuracy of the data is absolute,” said Puckett, who says the system learns when a Starbucks or Verizon store is nearby skewing the data.

Houston TranStar says the data is also doubly secure from privacy invasion because the MAC addresses are given anonymous numbers in the system despite the fact that a MAC address on a bluetooth headset, for instance, isn’t something as simple to track like an IP address.

For individuals driving through the Houston area this means they can get up-to-the-second information on travel times between two points, either via the the TranStar website on the device that, itself, is giving information to TranStar, or on transportation information signs located along major interstates that spit out detailed information like “Travel time to 1960 from Betlway 8 is 13 minutes at 4:46 pm.”

While AWAM makes Houston a leader in traffic technology, the area’s strong economy, sprawling layout, and crazy accidents still makes Houston a leader in needing it.
Necessity is the mother of invention and Houston’s traffic is one big mother…

AWAM

Photo Credit: Eschipul, Houston Transtar

Bereavement: Inna Lil Lahae Wa Inna Illahae Rajioun

Houston, Texas: It is being informed with much sorrow and pains that eldest sister of Director of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Southwest Zone Brother Moon Khan, has passed away in Pakistan. May God Bless her with Mughfirah & Janat-ul-Firdous and Give Immense Strength to the whole family to bear this immense loss (Aameen). One can reach Brother Moon Khan at 1-713-530-8034.

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Houstonian Corner V12-I3

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Bereavement for the Khan Family

We announce with immense pain and sorrow that Yasmeen Khan (Parro), wife of President of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) Shaukat Khan and sister of former City of Houston Councilperson Masrur Javed Khan, passed away after bravely battling with cancer for almost two years. Her funeral prayers were held at Hamza Masjid.

A special program of prayers was held for her on Saturday, January 16th, 2010 at 12:30pm. at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Main Center located at 3110 East Side Street, Houston, Texas 77098. For more information, one can call 832-867-2522 / 713-398-4829.

Staff members and their families of our media institute would like to extend our heartiest condolences’ to the whole Khan Family, pray for the departed soul to enter into the highest paradise and that God gives strength to the whole family to bear this immense loss (Aameen).

Public Service Does Not Need Any Portfolio: M. J. Khan

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Friends of Former City of Houston District “F” Councilperson M. J. Khan arranged a dinner to recognize and appreciate the services rendered by termed-out Councilman. Special congressional recognition was given by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee on this occasion. Also present and who gave tremendous tributes to M. J. included Congressman AL Green, Former Mayor of Houston Bill White, City of Houston Councilperson District “A” Brenda Stardig; Harris County Judge Candidate Gordon Quan, Azam Akhtar; Ghulam Chisti; Ghulam Bombaywala, Ali Riza Candir (Turkish Community); Dr. Asaf Qadeer; Shamshad Wali; Haroon Shaikh; Dr. Yaqoob Sheikh; Attorney Nomi Hussain; Ahmad El-Yaseen; Mohammad Zaheer; Attorney Neiyyar Izfar; and others. Everyone said that people will soon see M. J. Khan at a high public service post.

M. J. Khan with heavy heart informed everybody that doctors have given up hope for his sister to recover from cancer, which she had been daringly fighting for 2 years and then proudly informed that God has given him a grandson Yousuf only two weeks ago. He said these are real life struggles and then joyous stories: Winning or losing elections have no meaning in front of the real life.

He said he never ever imagined that a stadium full of people like 70,000 would ever vote for him in his life. Masrur Khan informed about a saying of Gordon Quan: “A stadium full of people voted for me. But just as information, my opponent also got a stadium full of voters balloting in his favor.”

He said although he did not win City Controller Elections, it does not mean he has lost or he will sit on the sidelines. “One does not need a portfolio to serve fellow human being,” added M.J.

Talking generally to the Muslim Community, M. J. Khan said history is a proof that wherever Muslims went, they left beautiful legacy of human service and that is what the community needs to do in USA: We need to serve everyone without any discrimination.

M.J. mentioned about one internal challenge the Muslim Community is facing and that is the Youth in the community need good guidance and should not fall to misinformation of the extremists, who have capability of sending their message inside USA using various new technology and media. “Muslim Youth need to follow the middle path specified by God and His Messenger Mohammad and avoid any extremist inclinations. Allah SWT in Quran clearly has stipulated that if someone saves a life, it is as if he or she has saved the whole humanity; while if someone kills one innocent person, it is as if he or she has killed the whole humanity.”

At the same time, M. J. Khan mentioned that one of the biggest external challenges the Muslim Community has to face is the false propaganda of few that wrongly attribute violence with Islam. “If Muslim Community is openly involved in what Islam has asked us to do and that is we have to be at the forefront of the public service, we can take care of this tirade of propaganda. We may be students in schools & colleges; entrepreneurs; professionals; politicians; and so on: Our main task in life is to serve the humanity,” said M. J. Khan.

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Houstonian Corner V11-I35

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistan Center Annual Dinner: Councilman M J Khan Given Bombaywala And Mian “Life Time Achievement Awards”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “I am happy to be here in Pakistan Center and want to congratulate the whole community that now we all have a home of our own”: These were the sentiments of the City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan, as he handed out the highest award given by the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), “The Life Time Achievement Award”, to Former President Ghulam Mohammad Bombaywala and Mian Shabbir. All this happened during the annual dinner of PAGH on Friday, August 14th, 2009, which was attended by Consul General of Pakistan Aqil Nadeem, several Elected and Governmental Officials from the Homeland Security Department.

By the Grace of God, Pakistan Center is a huge place located in City of Houston District “F”, from where Masrur Javed Khan (past President of PAGH) got elected as the first Pakistani and Muslim City Councilman of Houston, but this past Friday was the first time M. J. came to this Center and everyone was most happy to see him and hoped this is not the only time.

Pakistan Center is the first of its kind in North America, was build in an old HEB Store, through the efforts done by the previous President of PAGH Ghulam Mohammad Bombayawala and his team. The huge Pakistan Center has several shops at the front end and huge party hall at the back, from where rental money is received, making the center self-sustaining. Center has nice offices, meeting rooms and library build for the administration of PAGH.

President of PAGH Khalid Khan had to leave for Pakistan to attend the 14th of August ceremonies over there being the Vice President of Peoples’ Party North America, but his wife and daughters filled up his spot pretty well by handing out flower bouquets to M. J. Khan and Mrs. Bombaywala.

Large numbers of attendees were entertained by famous comedians from Pakistan Kashif Khan and Pervez Siddiqui. Many people were listening to them for the first time and their jokes and presentation were quite fresh and most hilarious for everyone.

For more information on ongoing programs and projects for the community by PAGH, once can call 281-933-0786.

Bill King the Grand Marshall of the 1st Pakistan Day Parade in Downtown Houston

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Hundreds of Pakistanis and their friends from other communities gathered in Downtown Houston for the historic first ever “Pakistan Day Parade Houston”, which was held on Sunday, August 16th, 2009.

It is said that inaugural Pakistan Day Parade in USA was held in New York, which was attended by around 100 persons. But this inaugural Houston parade saw seas of human beings coming together to fervently celebrate the day.

People from other cities and States had also come for the Parade. Some people like Dr. Aziz Siddiqi came on their open cars with their names and message of Pakistan Independence Day written on their vehicles. Several Pakistani students from University of Houston and Houston Community College System had their separate floats and vehicles with Pakistani Flags and paling traditional music of various areas of Pakistan. All these Youth were organized by social figures like Mariam Issa and Dr. Birjees Ashraf.

Former Mayor of Kemah Texas Bill King was the Grand Marshall of this first ever Pakistan Day Parade in Houston, as he led several hundred enthusiastic Youth from the Houston Community College System and the University of Houston. Accompanying them were the Founding Members Khalid Mahmood (Chairman) & Nadeem Naik (Secretary); and the Consul General of Pakistan Honorable Aqil Nadeem & City Councilman M. J. Khan.

Later on at the stairs of Tranquility Park, where the parade culminated, having started at 400 Rusk Street and went around Rusk, Milam and Walker; the national anthems of Pakistan and USA were presented and several speakers made enthusiastic speeches. They included Bill King, City Councilpersons M. J. Khan and Jolanda Jones, Consul General Aqil Nadeem, Islamic Society President Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, Khalid Mahmood, Nadeem Naik, Mariam Issa, Dr. Birjees Ashraf and others. Stage Programs were coordinated by Saleem and Zara Syed of Young Trang; Rehan Siddiqui of Hum Tum City Radio and Moin Pirzada of Radio Perdes.

Following the parade, speeches and recognition of sponsors like Mega Energy, a concert; lots of food; intermingling of families, friends & colleagues and Pakistanis and Non-Pakistanis happened.

The next parade will be held in Houston on March 28th, 2010. For more information, one can call 832-876-2392; or visit http://PakistanDayParadeHouston.com

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