Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crowdsourced taxi service - a theoretical excercise

One possible high tech solution for traffic in a city. Too bad its illegal in some places and possibly dangerous (specially in the phils). Since its possibly dangerous I'm treating this as a theoretical excercise. Oh, and it uses up smartphone 3g data connection and battery for 3g data and gps so it really becomes more theoretical. This probably would become feasible in the Philippines at least a decade from now.

Note: I'm now speculating on how it would work, or how I would do it in theory. Its off the top of my head as it were.

Note: This is based on me reading one article about similar services in the USA.

If you have a car and want to earn some money you sign up to this service. Load the app on your cellphone, the "driver" version of the app. When you are in your car and are not in a hurry, turn 3g data on and gps on your cellphone then sign in on the app and change your status to "available". Now go on your commute

A person who previously signed up to the service who needs a ride turns on his cellphone and GPS and logs in to the app, the "passenger" version. He or she then clicks on "find me a ride". He also specifies his destination. the app uses his GPS and contacts the apps of all drivers nearby who are available. They are informed of the passenger's destination. The app calculates the distance from passenger's pickup point to destination and gives a fixed fee. There is no haggling and no cash transaction. Obviously the fee should be competitive with official taxi services. The first "driver" who clicks "accept" will get the ride and he gets the passenger's username as well as a GPS map showing the route to the passenger. Of course since the drivers are all volunteers who are already by chance on the road, the ones who would accept are the drivers whose final destination is not too far from the passenger's destination. The system records all of this of course. The passenger gets the drivers username and a dynamic map showing the current location of the driver.

Also, the system is designed to allow multiple pickups to improve fuel consumption per passenger, ala car pooling. Passengers that have destinations that are on the projected route and are near each other can be told to walk to a common pickup location. A driver already with a passenger can accept another passenger en route via the app and the current passenger can veto this with his app by paying a fee.

Once the driver and passenger meet the passenger can accept or reject the ride. If rejected the passenger must input in the app why he rejected the ride, like a short mini feedback similar to the one in Ebay. If the passenger accepts, the passenger's  and the driver's cellphone somehow exchange a digital handshake which includes GPS location. This could be via internet, bluetooth or NFC and is of course logged in the system.

After the ride or if the passenger decides to cut short the ride, wherever the passenger decides to get off, GPS is used to calculate the distance travelled and the fee. The fee is transferred from the passenger's account to the driver's account. So a passenger must fill up the account first with load. And of course, the sytem will inform the passenger if his account's balance is below the estimated cost of the ride based on GPS. After the fee is settled, the driver and the passenger are asked to accomplish a feedback form just like on Ebay

Now of course, in the real world there are certain dangers to this such as driver on passenger and vice versa crime.And of course, the system can also be tweaked to make it totally voluntary like carpooling with no fee.

the end

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