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Building a transportation information system using only GPS and basic SMS infrastructure

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6 Author(s)
Ruth E. Anderson ; Dep't of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, 98195 USA ; Anthony Poon ; Caitlin Lustig ; Waylon Brunette
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This work consists of two main components: (a) a longitudinal ethnographic study in Kyrgyzstan that demonstrates the importance of transportation resources in the developing world and how to plan for an appropriate ICT solution, and (b) the results of a proof-of-concept system engineered to create a bottom-up, transportation information infrastructure using only GPS and SMS. Transportation is a very important shared resource; enabling efficient and effective use of such resources aids overall development goals. The system, *bus, involved the development of a hardware device (a *box) containing a GSM modem and a GPS unit, that can be installed on a vehicle and used to track its location. The *box communicates via SMS with a server connected to a basic GSM phone. The server runs route a prediction algorithm and users can send SMS messages to the server to find when a bus will arrive at their location. The paper discusses the system and early testing, as well as the development implications for a range of urban and rural environments where transportation is scarce or inefficient, and where a central authority or institution is not in a position to provide robust information resources for users. We describe how the solution is also situated within technology usage patterns common to the developing world.

Published in:

Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), 2009 International Conference on

Date of Conference:

17-19 April 2009