Saturday, June 30, 2012

Irate Taxi Services in Calgary

Company threatens legal action over new taxi rules, shrieks a Calgary Sun article this past June. "The proposed bylaws will require cab owners to electronically submit vehicle GPS and other data from existing taxi meters...Some of the data the city wants submitted electronically include: the status of the cab’s availability, trip volumes, dispatch response times, in-service vehicle counts, average seconds to answer customers calls by dispatchers, abandoned call rates, hold wait times and detailed records of customer complaints."

Could these demands be met by a business bound by traditional paper-based forms and logs? If any current cab companies have not embraced the digital age, these new requirements would indeed be nearly impossible to satisfy. 

But if this information is collected digitally - and if all cab companies are on the same platform -  the value of having this data could transform the way cab services operate in Calgary. I would suggest further that City council go a step further and make this data available on an open platform to allow innovators to build new apps. Getting ahead in the data game may even be critical for the survival of the industry (Uber Expands to Canada).

Even more critical, however, is a shift in the way institutions work together. There has to be a fundamental trust between council and the taxi companies to openly share this data. This trust is obviously missing.

Could another forum be organized, other than rounds of council meetings and litigation, where both parties be introduced to the innovators and the big ideas and opportunities latent in this data? An UnConference or Hackathon might just be the thing.