Paper Maps and Travel Artifacts

August 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

by Gregg

When I started in the ground transportation business 20-something years ago, I would buy so many paper maps that I had a wholesale account with Hagstrom (Thompson if you’re on the west coast).  The maps were segregated by county, so every driver had a briefcase dedicated to carrying their collection of maps. We were so dependent on paper maps — and which driver had which maps in his briefcase — that dispatch decisions were based upon which drivers had what maps. Can you imagine?

Ah, the memories.  To get from point A to point B you would first look up the street names in an index, then get your page number, then your grid coordinates.  Then, you’d anxiously try to find that street name in a sea of color on the page — usually while driving with Miss Daisy in the back seat.  It was a lot like “Where’s Waldo,” and I often felt like someone was watching me in a monitor from a hidden camera, snickering in a darkened room, “Bet he’ll never find that street!”  Well, we always found it, but it was rarely easy.

With the advent of high-quality low-priced GPS systems, no chauffeur worth his salt would be caught dead using a paper map today.  GPS has changed the world so much so that now I will bravely go to a city that I have never before visited and will tightly schedule appointments, having confidence that my trusty GPS unit (I call her “Daisy”) will get me to them on time.

The technology that will be available in the near future will not only allow a chauffeur to navigate in geographic areas that are unfamiliar, but will also provide their dispatcher with real-time location information and their ETA to a customer’s pickup location.  Once we are able to “push” that GPS data to a client’s desktop and smartphones, passengers will be able to see for themselves just how soon their car will arrive.  GPS guidance will also lower fuel costs by suggesting the most efficient routes.  Some industry experts are saying that they can save us as much as 20%.

I am actually testing some new hardware that can wirelessly send addresses to me in my car, provide directions while guiding me around traffic, and then show me a picture of my destination when I arrive. Take that, snickering guy in the dark room!  I’ll get there without a problem.

What will we think of next?  Stay tuned and I will try to keep you current on the technical innovations in ground transportation.

See you in Denver, and don’t forget Booth 413.

Entry filed under: Gregg on the Ground, Ground travel, Travel Technology. Tags: , , , , .

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