Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dynamic Ridesharing Pt 2

I told friends about my idea, but few seemed to see its brilliance.

"What if you get in a car with a psycho person, or a bad driver?" they asked.
"Well, obviously you'd have to have police records and driving records...and you're being tracked on GPS, so there would be an alert if someone started to drive you someplace different from the original, you're in the middle of L.A. traffic, it's not like you're on a lonely road somewhere."
"Yeah, well, what if you leave your car at home, and then you get someplace and there's no one to take you back?"
"I think at first there would be courtesy cars--maybe contracted with a cab service, to insure that wouldn't happen."
"Huh. What if someone smelled bad?"
"Well, I guess that might happen once or twice. But you give feedback after each transaction, like on eBay, I think smelly people would get comments and either freshen up or their ratings would drop--think of how many different people you meet who might be cool!"
"Yeaahhh...I don't know if I would do it."

I don't get it. These are people who compost and recycle their light-bulbs, who worry about global warming and care about people in third world countries. How can we be so fervent and deep in our causes and so shallow in our everyday interactions? Whatever.

Just out of curiosity, I googled a place that does tracking for entities like trucking companies, the San Diego city utilities etc, and talked to him. He said, “Sure, you could outfit each car with a GPS and a Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) that would connect to a database that would associate with a webpage accessible with a PDA.” He said they would have to customize a system, but seemed confident that such a system could handle a hundred thousand drivers. "Have you sent this idea of Al Gore?" he asked, "Someone should give you a really big grant to try this."
"Not quite yet," I replied modestly, but doing the high-five dance inside, finally, someone realized this was THE BEST IDEA EVER.

I couldn't believe no one else had ever thought of it.

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