The Text Express

— September 01, 2006

Who hasn't had the unfortunate experience of arriving promptly at an airport only to discover their flight has been delayed? Or worse, shown up at a train or bus station just as their ride pulls away. Transit companies are hoping to alleviate these travel woes by offering customers schedules and delay alerts via text message--benefiting riders, carriers and the transit companies.

The U.K.'s Metro system supplies real-time, scheduled bus departure information to customers throughout the West Yorkshire region with its YourNextBus service. Since its release last September, YourNextBus has received nearly 400,000 text messages requesting information.
The service is a collaborative project between Metro, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), transport technology company Acis and the county's bus operators, and it is paid for by the West and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs), according to Mark Durham, Metro's electronic information services coordinator. "[The PTEs] are responsible for covering the costs of running the system, and revenue from the service is taken by whichever mobile network the customer uses."

Transit companies are employing text messaging services in the United States, as well. NJ Transit--provider of bus, rail and light rail transit in the New York City and Philadelphia areas--currently offers My Transit, a service that transmits customized text messages to roughly 38,000 commuters via mobile phone, alerting them of service disruptions and delays of 15 minutes or more on requested lines.

NJ Transit has also invested in an upcoming project that will allow passengers to access real-time train information via an internal XML data feed linked to arrival and departure signage inside the transit station.

"We want to look for ways to export data to our existing riders by letting them log on through a mobile Web interface on their cell phone or via a text message query," says Ken Pringle, a member of NJ Transit's Board of Directors and the mayor of Belmar, N.J. "[These services can tell you] whether or not you have time for dessert, or whether you have to run [to catch your train or bus]. They're opportunities to make people's lives easier."

The project, which is still in the developmental stage, will be offered initially in a beta version to a limited number of existing My Transit users on a pilot basis to confirm proof of concept, followed by plans for a broader rollout. 

"We're trying to make information available in a variety of easy ways, via
platforms that the passengers are already comfortable with," adds Pringle. "We want to make it simpler for people to consider mass transit when they choose among mobility options."
--Jessica Rivchin


In The News

Partnerships Microsoft has formed an alliance with Nortel to develop and sell VoIP systems that integrate calls with email, instant messaging and video conferencing for businesses.
The partnership is a part of Microsoft's strategy to promote wider use of collaborative software tools and Web services.

Motorola announced a deal with softbank group, which recently purchased the mobile assets of Vodafone in Japan, to deploy a trial mobile WiMAX network in Tokyo. The trial will allow Softbank to assess the effectiveness of WiMAX as a wireless broadband technology and as a potential addition to its telecom portfolio.

Aperto Networks has successfully shipped its WiMAX Forum Certified PacketMAX products to Avalcom, a leading reseller and systems integrator of Aperto in Russia. Avalcom is planning a series of pilot projects and trials throughout Russia over the next three months to cover different end-user and vertical market segments.

Pyxis Mobile, a wireless software provider, has announced the formation of
an mPlatform Alliance (mPA) with solutions provider International Information Systems (IIS), to extend the availability of order and portfolio management systems to its clients' mobile devices. The partnership will also allow IIS to extend its enterprise applications
to smaller companies.

Savi Networks, a provider of RFID-based data services for monitoring cargo container shipments, is partnering with the Maritime Logistics Innovation Center (MLIC) to provide Georgia's ports with SaviTrak, the company's real-time information service. The agreement will enable terminal operators and their customers to obtain real-time data on RFID tags at other ports connected to Savi Networks worldwide.

AirTight Networks, a supplier of wireless intrusion prevention and performance management solutions, has partnered with Extricom, a designer and manufacturer of wireless LAN infrastructure to provide integrated wireless switching and wireless intrusion prevention solutions to enterprises worldwide. The companies will co-market and sell each other's solutions.

Astea International, a management software solutions company, has formed an alliance with Microsoft to provide integrated Service Lifestyle Management solutions via Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics AX. The partnership will help Astea offer organizations strong end-to-end field service solutions with enterprise research planning solutions from Microsoft.

VoIP On Wireless, a new broadband phone service provider, will partner with VIPN, a Swiss VoIP provider and phone manufacturer, to distribute its line of smartphones, which can automatically switch between GSM and Wi-Fi networks. VoIP On Wireless hopes to be the first U.S. carrier to reach the cellular and broadband markets through VIPN's technology.

Deployments
Nortel has been selected to supply Verizon Wireless with an advanced CDMA
1xEV-DO Revision. The upgrade will provide faster data speeds and meet customer demand for more high-bandwidth, real-time wireless services such as VoIP, video telephony and advanced multimedia applications.

Siemens has installed Latin America's first commercial WiMAX network for Orbitel, a major long-distance operator in Colombia. The new network is based in Cali, Colombia, and provides wireless Internet access via Siemens' WayMAX@vantage solution. Orbitel will roll out Siemens' WiMAX technology in 14 more major Colombian cities over
the following months.

Computer Market Research (CMR), a POS and inventory reporting solutions provider, has been deployed by Ricoh, a provider of digital office equipment, for its PartnerAvenue and ChannelPOS solutions. CMR's PartnerAvenue solution delivers greater visibility into sales channels to optimize productivity and integrate with ChannelPOS to provide a complete portal solution for data management.

Fred Williams has selected software provider Data-Basics to provide the mechanical contracting, engineering and HVAC service organization with its SAM Pro Enterprise software and integrate its service management and accounting operations with a single enterprise software solution.

x10DATA Corporation, a mobile platforms developer, has mobilized Microsoft's Dynamics ERP and CRM applications on Palm's Treo 700w smartphone. With the x10DATA Smart Client, Treo users can access financial, sales, service and project management apps in real-time via Verizon's EV-DO broadband network.

Notebook
Caribbean communications company Digicel is providing hurricane alerts, tracking maps, supplies and public safety information to ensure connectivity in severe weather conditions across all 20 Caribbean markets. Digicel Cayman Islands is increasing network capacity, upgrading backup systems and facilitating SMS alerts to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency's national disaster team throughout its three-island network.

InfoSpace, a mobile media and technology company and developer and distributor of mobile content, has debuted at number 20 on the Wired 40 list of the world's most innovative companies. Companies that made the list were cited for their "strategic vision, global reach, killer technology, hunger for new ideas and an impatience to put them into practice."

Siemens has announced that its SURPASS next-generation IP-based softswitch platform has helped its customer, Cablevision Systems, sign up one million subscribers to the company's VoIP service, Optimum Voice, in under three years. The SURPASS platform has the capacity to support up to 150,000 subscribers in a single softswitch.

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