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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mashable
How to Use Mobile Devices to Solve Global Problems

"In 1999, half of the world had either never used a phone or had to travel more than two hours to reach the nearest one. Years later, mobile devices are being used in extremely innovative ways to connect and empower people around the world.

'It's not about being connected,' said Larry Irving, co-founder of the Mobile Alliance for Global Good, at the 2012 Social Good Summit on Sunday. 'It's about being connected with a purpose.'" READ MORE

Transparencia Mexicana
A New Role for Citizens in Public Procurement

"Globalisation has the potential to raise living standards for citizens around the world, as well as bearinthe risk of excluding people from those benefits. Ensuring that globalisation contributes to a more equitable and sustainable form of economic growth requires the participation of citizens in monitoring how the global economy is changing and how it impacts the life of people.

The Arab Spring has shown the power of people in their potential to change political systems. Transparency International, the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, aspires to support the emergence of a broad-based social movement standing up to corruption, especially where it violates human rights and threatens the most vulnerable. In Transparency International’s Strategy 2015, we underline that sustainable change requires broad public support. A widespread public engagement will reinforce the demand for solid institutions and provide a strong mandate for political leadership to succeed in their commitments.”  READ MORE

Voices of Youth: Ideas to Encourage the Public to Embrace Mass Transit

Nandish Kenia's picture

What does one generally looks for while travelling? Quick, hassle free, safe and convenient mode of transportation! To get people to shift from private to public transport, the usability and access to public transport should be such that people choose it over their own vehicles.

This is however a classic chicken and egg problem because until the public sees an improvement in public transport they are not going to use it, and till the government sees people using it, it will not invest in public transport. In this case, the government will have to take the first bold steps and invest in the infrastructure of public transportation systems.

Points to be considered:

The 10-Cent GPS

Holly Krambeck's picture

We know that technology is not a panacea, that gadgetry and software are not always the right solutions for our transport problems. But how do we know – really know -- when technology is truly the wrong way to go – when, say, using an old-fashioned compass is genuinely better than a GPS?

Thanks to blogger Sebastiao Ferreira, writing for MIT’s CoLab Radio, I have learned about an intriguing phenomenon in Lima, where entrepreneur data collectors, named dateros, stand with clipboards along frequented informal microbus routes, collecting data on headways, passenger counts, and vehicle occupancy levels. The microbus drivers pay dateros about 10-cents per instant update, and they use the information to adjust their driving speed.  For example, if there is a full bus only a minute ahead of the driver’s vehicle, the driver will slow down, hoping to collect more passengers further down the route. In informal transit systems, where drivers’ incomes are directly tied to passenger counts, paying dateros is a good investment (Photo from MIT CoLab Radio).

If you think about it, use of dateros could be more efficient than traditional schedule or GPS-based dispatch, because the headways are dynamically and continuously updated to optimize the number of passengers transported at any given time of day.  According to Jeff Warren (a DIY cartography pioneer), the dateros have been praised as the “natural database, an ‘informal bank’ of transportation optimization data.”

Does this little-known practice call into question our traditional prescription for high-tech solutions to bus dispatch?

“They are sitting on a gold mine and don’t even know it….”

Holly Krambeck's picture

The other day, my colleague Roger Gorham, a transport economist working in Africa, shared with me an interesting story. He was in Lagos, meeting with stakeholders about setting up public-private partnerships for transport initiatives. One meeting revealed that, in an effort to improve service, a private entity had invested in new taxis for Lagos and in each had installed a GPS unit. This little revelation may not seem interesting, but it was very exciting to Roger, who also learned that the company has amassed more than 3 years of GPS tracking data for these taxis (which, incidentally, troll the city like perfect probes, nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) and that this data could be made available to him, if he thought he might make some use of it.

Now, if you are reading this blog, chances are that you realize that with this kind of data and a little analysis, we can quickly and easily reveal powerful insights about a city’s transport network – when and where congestion occurs, average traffic volumes, key traffic generators (from taxi pick-up point data), occurrence of accidents and traffic blockages in real time, and even the estimated effects of congestion and drive cycle on fuel efficiency.

As Roger said, “They are sitting on a gold mine and don’t even know it….”