FUTURE AND THE INTERNET
The future and the Internet is this months subject. This topic was sparked by Allen Togwell's column last month concerning Dial-a-Cab's proposed Internet venture. If Dial-a-Cab are successful with real-time taxi booking on the Internet, then as far as I know, it will be the first world-wide.
|Being first in the world to utilise a new
technology may not the be-all and end-all, but it's certainly shows the strategic forward
thinking involved. Obviously the BOM of Dial-a-Cab have done their research and know that
the potential resale profits of this system could be huge. I don't know the exact details
of the proposed system but I wish the BOM every success with this venture and it just goes
to show who leads the taxi industry world-wide.
I'll try to imagine the future where every Dial-a-Cab taxi has its Pentium computer onboard and I'll give some possible examples of the advantages that this could give.(Editors note: Some time this year all DAC drivers WILL have a Pentium 586 computer onboard).
The client could immediately book a taxi via a secure Dial-a-Cab web site; they would be able to view their account statistics and print/analyse the data; send an email directly to the driver of the cab who's carrying their worker/client; determine exactly where the cab is and all this would be achieved without the intervention of an operator.
Whereas the driver could visit the secure drivers section of the web site where he/she would be able to find out all the details of the current fare and previous fares; print/analyse their personal information; visit a web site to determine where those elusive points of interest are; visit a map web site such as http://www.streetmap.co.uk to search for a street, send emails to their colleagues, receive emails from the wife/husband reminding you about the loaf of bread and milk, take bookings from their own web sites that came with the free space provided with their own ISP etc.
In my opinion it's a no-lose situation for all involved. Dial-a-Cab wins because it's so much cheaper than the alternatives and could reap further rewards, the clients win because they no longer have to wait for an operator to book a taxi and they gain instant access to all of their account details, the driver wins because of the flexibility the onboard computer provides. I'm sure there are many more features that the systems could provide, but I've just summarised my thoughts quickly, because as usual I've left writing this column to the last minute.
|I don't know if
any of you noticed the introduction of the NetTop Boxes that were available just before
Christmas last year, costing approximately £300. It resembles the Video Recorder that
sits below your TV set. The NetTop Box, connected to your telephone line, provides the
means to access the Internet via an Internet Service Provider (ISP), although you'll still
have to pay the ISP approximately £10/month to supply access to the Internet and to give
you your email addresses.
These little boxes have been developed for those people who don't wish to spend £1,000 for a PC and only want to access the Internet. What's the point of all this you may ask? Well if you consider some of the freebies that are available on the Net it could be worthwhile and cost effective. For instance, why not visit http://www.bupa.co.uk and ask one of the Consultants for help concerning a medical ailment, totally free of charge. The NetTop Boxes may or may not be successful - only time will tell, but with all the electrical industries and cable industries investing so much money and effort into the Internet, I can't see it failing. This year will see the Internet mature into a stable, secure medium for commerce. It always has been secure but over here in the UK there has been this superstition that it is insecure. Making credit card transactions on the Internet using Secure Socket Layers (SSL) is much more secure than making a credit card transaction over the phone, yet we all make transactions over the phone! We put more trust in a human voice rather than secure digital transmission. Do we know who that person is on the other end of the phone or can you guarantee that no one else is listening in? Also, when you're in a restaurant what's to stop a disgruntled waiter from grabbing your credit card details. Over the Internet, when you use SSL, it is a non-stop secure link from one end to the other with much less chance of someone stealing your number. So if you wish to do business on the Net, don't listen to the gossip, just make sure it's Secure.
Don't forget, for impartial discussions relevant to our trade, please visit:http://www.taxicab.co.uk/tradedsc or to read Dial-a-Cab's on-line version of Call Sign visit: http://www.taxicab.co.uk/dialacabmag
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