SubwayAPPS: Using Smartphone Barometers for Positioning in Underground Transportation Environments

  • Kris van Erum
  • Johannes Schöning
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


Location information that is crucial for all location-based services is almost always available due to a number of different positioning techniques and technologies such as GPS and WiFi positioning. However, positioning technologies cannot provide sufficient position information when a user is underground, e.g. travelling with a car through a tunnel or on subways on an underground public transportation network. While there have been a number of attempts to utilize expensive infrastructure and smartphone sensors to address this situation, all of these techniques are either limited in scope, very expensive, or somewhat limited in accuracy. In this paper, we present a novel smartphone-based approach called SubwayAPPS (Subway Air Pressure Positioning System) that for the first time utilizes relative air pressure changes as detected by smartphone barometers to position a user. We first demonstrate the feasibility of this approach by comparing the depth characteristics of five major underground transportation networks across the globe and show that our novel approach is feasible for positioning users while they are underground in these networks. Second, we show with two user tests in Brussels and London that our lightweight approach works well as other more complex techniques, e.g. techniques that rely on pattern matching using the build-in accelerometers or gyroscopes, under realistic conditions.


Height Difference Underground Network Adjacent Station Subway Station Android Platform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Brent Hecht for his comments on this draft. Furthermore we would like to thank Thomas Stockx for sharing his implementation of the MetroNavigator application (Stockx et al. 2014).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hasselt UniversityHasseltBelgium

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