YOU’RE ALL FROGS

Of course it doesn’t actually apply to you because you read my blog and you know how tirelessly I have worked to encourage people to make smarter decisions about their travel, especially their commute.

So don’t think of this as being addressed at you, but remember this little blog when you look over at the person in the car in the urban parking lot next to yours tomorrow. This is for them.

Tomorrow they will be driving back to work, maybe for the first time in the decade. The traffic will be bad and then, like frog leg soup, on Tuesday it will be worse, the heat will come on and they will start feeling the effect.

By the end of the week, just add some wine and garlic. It won’t help, but it might take their minds off it until the next Monday.

They don’t use car navigation, because they know where they are going. They don’t use real time traffic information because you don’t need someone to tell you its bad. It just adds salt, right?

So off they go, heading for the water cooler, where they can form a mutual sympathy huddle and ask why no one does anything. Here’s the thing. It’s up to them, not someone else. They are the system.

I have a question. Was I right? Are you a frog, or are you going to jump out of the pot and do something about it. If so, what?

Posted in Car Navigation, Car Technology, cars, commuting, congestion, cycling, drivers, driving, driving app, freeway, Google maps, Government, GPS Apps, GPS Car Nav, GPS Maps, GPS Nav, GPS Navigation, HERE, Intelligent Transport Systems, ITS, love of cars, Nav Maps, Navigation Maps, Navman, New Zealand, People, Public Transport, road rage, RTTI, Telecommuting, traffic, traffic congestion, traffic demand, traffic design, Traffic Information, Traffic jam, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, travel demand management, Unusual Traffic, Urban design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Washington Post and Other Newspapers with Paywalls Miss Out on Readers

Washington Post Paywall

I’ve meant to write about this for a long time, but never quite got around to it. if you know me, you’ll be aware that I often curate articles that I think will be of interest to my many followers.

I look for the best articles and don’t particularly care where they come from as long as they have good information that my readers and followers are interested in. Several newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times have paywalls and once you have opened a certain number of articles, they won’t let you view any more unless you pay. Yes, it is only $1 on the offer in the picture above. But I’m not getting paid for my blog stories and if I subscribed to each paywalled publication I curate from, it would get expensive.

The thing is, I don’t want to, or need to subscribe to their paper, but because I can’t easily link to an article once I reach their arbitrary limit, I stop sharing their great stories. This is an example. It’s CES time and many of my readers are excited about GPS and location based gadgets, looking to my social media and blogs for articles about cool new tech. They won’t get a link to the story in this picture frome me.

If you are in the newspaper industry you might want to think about other ways to get people to subscribe and pay for news services. I understand the reason you have paywalls, but maybe there are better ways to manage them.

As an example, the NZ Herald provides all the stories for free, but if you want the backstory or more in depth information, you can subscribe and get print and more digital info. That’s much smarter in my book. What do you think?

Posted in 3D Glasses, Animal tracking, Apple Watch, Apps, AR, AR Glasses, Augmented Reality, beacons, Best GPS, Bike tracking, Blog, Bluetooth, News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Like Some Help Writing Your Business Blog or Story for 2020?

So much to do

So many people tell me they need to write blogs, articles and other material for their website or other marketing output. They know customers want to do business with people and feel they have a relationship with them, and that they don’t particularly like advertising material because it often feels disingenuous.

They want to tell a story about their company, their people; maybe provide some interesting information that will bring people back to the website, especially if they don’t need the product or service yet. They know what type of people they want as customers, but it all takes time. It’s the beginning of the year and whilst it’s a good time to get started, there is so much to think about.

Maybe they don’t know what to write about, or just don’t feel confident writing in the first place. Does this sound like you? Well that’s great because it’s the beginning of the year and I enjoy writing. What’s more I’m looking for some additional clients I can write for. It doesn’t matter if it is a single blog or article, I can help you. If you know of someone else that wants their to be more visible in a way that doesn’t feel like selling, maybe you could point them in my direction. They will be glad you did.

You’ll find my contact details on my profile. Just reply to me where you read this article or contact me on LinkedIn.

Posted in Blog, Blog coach, Blogging, brand, Build Management, Business, Business Consultant, Business Writing, Collaboration, Communications, Customers, grocery, Loyalty, Restaurant, Retail, retail survival, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the Best Home Security for 2020?

House burglaries, theft of, and from cars in people’s driveways, porch pirates are all things we have to deal with today and of course even more so leading up to the Christmas Holidays.

What I really want to share with you today is a few habits you need to change.

I recommend you grab a pen and paper and make yourself a list of things to do and list of things not to do.

Fun on the beach

Don’t be all over social media telling people that you are going away on holiday unless you have other people who will be occupying your home. You might be keeping up with the Jones’ by talking about your upcoming vacation on the beach or in the snow, or sharing selfies from the pool. But think of all those items you bought to keep up with the Jones’ that might have been burgled before you get back.

Here’s a big one. Please watch this video. It is less than two minutes long, but it could save you thousands of dollars. Using cheap or free apps, cyber criminals armed with just a cellphone, can identify every bluetooth device in your house, car or bach that is turned on. Often, like the iPad and TV in the image above, they will even describe themselves.

When you are driving to your holiday destination and get out of your car for lunch or a coffee, and leave mobiles, tablets, bluetooth speakers, navigation devices in the car, as this video demonstrates, they can be located within 2-3 seconds by someone using one of these apps, complete with a compass and distance setting, so they don’t have to waste valuable time rummaging around to find your devices. They make a few quick dollars and your holiday has just gotten off to a bad start. You were probably still feeling some lingering stress after the long year at work and the traffic.

As I explain in the video, they can even create a list showing locations on a map that they can sell to other people, for example criminals who steal to order. They might not care about your old 42″ plasma screen, but your QLED 85″ TV that you bought on Black Friday is easily worth a quick thousand dollars to a motivated meth head.

One of the best investments I made this year was a WiFi security camera. Installation and setup took me about 20 minutes, including the mobile app. It has Infrared so it has great night vision as well as during the day.

I bought a very large SanDisk Micro SD card cheap from Aliexpress. It worked fine, but I decided for peace of mind to go with the cloud which is also very cheap and means that if someone was clever enough to steal the memory card, I would still have a great 1080p video of them doing it. It’s simple and low cost.

My D-link captures video, sound, pans and zooms, all from my phone and I can even talk to the person in front of the camera, for example if it was a courier or perhaps a friend coming to visit. Alternatively I could tell someone that isn’t supposed to be there that I have sent their image to the Police already and they might want to sit and wait for them.

Of course the camera sends alerts to my iPhone based on rules that I set up, and every time an event is triggered I can watch the camera live or the recording it just made. I can download the video to my phone, email it or capture photos from it in an instant.

Then of course there are your neighbors. If you are not in a neighborhood watch group, you probably should be. Let them know when you are going to be coming and going, if you have people they don’t know staying on your property and share information so that you all know as much as you need to, in order to keep an eye on each other’s properties.

I could talk about loads of devices and technology, but if you follow the advice on the video and the few things I’ve suggested here, you will be well on your way to making someone else’s property more attractive to the bottom dwellers who want to make your life a misery.

So what is the best home security for 2020? It’s mostly about common sense.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Posted in Bike thieves, Black Friday, Bluetooth, burglary, car insurance, Car Navigation, car security, Car theft, Crime, crime map, Crime Prevention, cybercrime, drug shopping, drugs, Facebook, Foresight, Gadgets, Hacker, HAcking cars, holiday traffic, Home automation, insurance risk, Internet of Things, Internet Privacy, kids wearable tech, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, Location Based Education, long weekend, Luggage tracking, Map apps, mobile holiday apps, mobile safety, neighborhood crime, Neighbourhood Crime, News, Personal security, Police, road trip, security, Sensors, SmartPhone, Social Media, Social Media Insight, Society, stolen, Stolen cars, theft, track crime, Track phone, Track Smartwatch., Track Thieves, Tracking criminals, Travel Apps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Auckland Harbour Bridge Approaches are at Full Capacity

Headlines in newspapers are saying that the business case for building a second harbour crossing in Auckland have been delayed. The implication is that this will exacerbate the traffic congestion problem.

Auckland’s Mayor, Phil Goff has a published Vision Statement which I quite like. It talks about opportunity, diversity, somewhere that people want to come to live, work, play, raise families on at least an equal footing with the best cities in the world.

It talks about improving public transport, creating more opportunities for walking and cycling and about addressing the housing shortage. It doesn’t say anywhere that we want to build dormitory suburbs and trying to push the people that live in those suburbs to commute into the CBD.

In fact, what the stories are saying is that we are close to gridlocked already and the population is growing at a pace which currently appears to be unsustainable.

My question is, are we trying to fix the wrong problem. Are we trying to fix a people problem with technology? We know from cities which are much bigger than us, that adding more lanes to highways and increasing public transport, in and of itself just increases congestion.

We know that congestion taxes, slowing traffic, limiting forms of traffic to certain roads and other mitigations can help for a while. The Waterview Tunnel in Auckland is a great example of that. But, as this article alludes to, this will only slow the tide, it won’t stem it.

Posted in Auckland, Buses, Business, commuting, cycling, driving, Government, Location Based Shorts, love of cars, Motoring, motorway, New Zealand, People, Politics, population, Public Transport, real time traffic, Road Tolls, RTTI, safer driving, safer journeys, Telecommuting, the future, traffic, traffic congestion, Traffic Control, traffic demand, traffic design, Traffic Information, Traffic jam, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, Transport, Travel, travel demand management, Travel Information, Urban design, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solving the Traffic Jam Problem – Getting Cities Moving Again

Volkswagen and D-Wave Computing

I got pretty excited when I read the press release about Volkswagen getting together with D-Wave, using quantum computing to demonstrate real time traffic optimised routing at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon which starts tomorrow. I wish I was going! The conference is sold out but they are going to live stream it.

I’ve been involved in collecting and delivering real time traffic information (RTTI) to business and consumers for over 10 years and have seen the evolution from dedicated PND’s, to in-car navigation, to smartphone apps like Google and HERE. I was involved in a number of innovations which helped ease the consequences of traffic congestion for those who bothered to use it.

I have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of real innovation, or even desire to innovate outside the box, and have seen entropy develop in the way we respond to ever increasing numbers of vehicles on our highways. We have become linear in our approach to dealing with planned and unplanned events. This modus operandi often results in merely shifting a problem from one place to another.

Having attended international transport conferences and endured university paper presentations going into great detail about management strategies for a 500 meter strip of road, it is little wonder that the problem isn’t going away because even academe is mostly rehashing the same old stuff. At least in the streams where we source our traffic engineers.

On my commute to the Auckland Transport Operations Centre (where I worked until recently) from home, Google would always route me via the highest ranking highway, even if it was congested. With local knowledge I knew a better way and found a rat-run through residential streets, saving me about 5 minutes on my journey which hardly anyone was using. Before too long people found out about it and then to top it off, Google started recommending it. Over time the shortcut ended up creating gridlock, resulting in driver stress and a liberal dose of daily road rage.

Councils and departments of transport have limited control over their networks at times of unusual demand. They run optimisation programs with intersections and do their best to keep roads flowing on arterial routes to the best of their ability, but any unplanned event can lead to concatenating outcomes farther up the network. A car crash for example can lead to multiple arterial routes becoming gridlocked.

Previously as Sales & Marketing Manager for GeoSmart, I was involved in the specification and sale of route optimisation solutions for commercial fleets, which were largely based around the traveling salesman problem. The crux of this is how do I visit every client on my list but drive the minimum distance and time.

I was able to help many companies improve their productivity and profit, by providing the tools to calculate the optimal routes for their vehicle fleets, in many cases overnight for the following day, for each vehicle. I wrote many articles about our product Route2Go on our company blog at the time, which are still on the web explaining the benefits of route optimisation as a service.

Waterloo University in California came up with some novel solutions from the shortest route to do a pub crawl to every pub in the United Kingdom and a walking tour of the top 50 places to visit in the city of Washington. As you can see, the route is roughly a circle that starts and ends at the same place.

These routes are brilliant when there is no traffic, not too bad when there is some traffic, but there are two situations where it doesn’t work well.

  • When there is a blockage to the route. It could be commuter traffic, an accident, planned roadworks. Your pre planned circle totally fails if you try to stick with the order you have planned.
  • When there are other constraints to your journey. You have to be at a certain place at a certain time. For example one of my clients was a national logistics company delivering alcoholic beverages to stores. They could only deliver when the licensed manager of the premises was available to receive the goods. Those unexpected traffic events would mess with the entire day’s workload and whilst we understand that we can’t prevent unplanned events, customers still expect work to be done on time and transport costs are also based on ‘fixed’ overheads.

So back to Volkswagen and D-Wave. They will be demonstrating the use of quantum computing with 26 buses going from the Lisbon city centre to the conference site. Each bus will have its own route calculated independently. It will take into consideration where people are waiting to catch the buses (in real time), what the current real time traffic conditions are on the available routes, for example the locations of accidents or traffic jams, and even predict traffic jams based on current network sensors and activity using artificial intelligence.

Consider the future implications of this sort of technology. In Auckland, New Zealand, in order to reduce the road toll and number of urban accidents, the city has decided to reduce the maximum driving speed on 10% of urban roads.

We do have a problem and the city is trying to do something about it, as they should.

However this causes other problems. For example the freight and distribution industry over recent years has been expected to make more deliveries as our population increases, in less time, and for less return. Already it is common to hear of couriers and other drivers speeding and risking being caught because “if they can’t meet their quota, they can’t afford to run their business”. I’m not justifying that stance, they are breaking the law and taking the very risks Auckland Transport is trying to reduce.

However, as David Aitken, CEO of National Road Carriers said in a recent press release,  “Slowing down roads slows down our economy.” In the linked release he spoke about the necessity to research approaches to the problems of safety and network performance.

So this is where quantum computing comes in and I believe this will deliver some amazing outcomes, but initially, because of cost and the share scale of the problem, and perhaps because those who need it are trying to deal with the day to day demands of their business, rather than looking to solve the bigger problem, it will be delivered to individual companies who have the resources to invest in this technology.

One day, this is what Smart Cities should deliver, but I suspect we are 10-20 years away from being able to scale a real time traffic based route optimisation solution that will work for all users in a modern city. I suspect that most countries and cities will not have the vision to start developing these solutions, or the budgets. When politics comes into play, long term strategies are often derailed.

What can such a solution deliver?

A unique route for every vehicle on the network, irrespective of whether it is a single destination journey or a large number of stops such as the route for a rubbish truck. This route will be calculated dynamically based on what is happening on the network and the calculated impact of planned and unplanned events. It will be able to take into account the impacts of weather, school or public holidays, and use historic information. It will continue to recalculate dynamically throughout the day as conditions or circumstances change.

The vehicles or fleets using this technology will get an unfair advantage as will any Fleet Management or Car Navigation company providing these solutions. Each journey is unique. Three trucks leaving a depot 10 minutes apart for the same destination, may if appropriate, be given three different routes.

If I were still in the industry, I would be offering this to commercial road users as a cloud based service. For the driver it would be like car navigation, but in practice this is transport gold. Like gold, it won’t be cheap because the cost of the calculations is high, but this will be offset by increased productivity. perhaps there will be levels of service to match budgets.

A smart city would need to totally change its way of thinking about traffic, travel information and the way they control their network. I’m not confident they will do that in the coming decades, so it will be up to the transport industry and technology disruptors to do it. The city can provide data to the third parties who will deliver routes to end users.

Those who are prepared to pay for it, will get better outcomes. As more and more commercial road users adopt this type of technology, we will start to see traffic flowing more like water or energy, maximising the network capacity and steering traffic away from blockages until they are restored. This of course will also improve safety for all.

These concepts can also be applied to public transport, especially express routes, school buses, long haul and special event transport.

The immediate challenge is for the Fleet Management industry, or at least an initial key player to embrace quantum computing travel information/routing solutions and pilot them with companies or associations who want better outcomes.

This reminds me of the early days of eRUC, where companies created solutions allowing commercial vehicle operators to pay road taxes electronically straight from the vehicle. In the early days that was a big deal, today it is just BAU.

So what do you think? Want to wait for 10-20 years? Every large city in the world has the same problem and it is getting worse. By managing the network in the same way as they do now, do you think we will get a different result?

As this article from City Lab says, ‘Traffic has a Mind-Blowing Economic Toll’.

What does that mean for the consumer? Everything costs more. It’s that simple. We have known for years that traffic congestion has a major impact on GDP. It hurts everyone. Maybe it’s time to introduce some innovation. What do you think?

Posted in accidents, Artificial intelligence, Auckland, BAU, Big Data, Bus Apps, Buses, Business, Business Intelligence, car accidents, car crash, Car Navigation, car safety, Car Technology, car tracker, car tracking, city GPS travel apps, commuting, congestion, connected cars, Crash, disruptive model, driving, driving app, Fleet Management, Freight App, Future, future car, Future Technology, Good travel apps, Google, Government, GPS Bus Tracking, GPS Car Nav, GPS Nav, GPS Navigation, HERE, holiday traffic, Intelligent Transport Systems, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, motorway, Politics, Public Transport, Qauntum Theory, road rage, road toll, Road Tolling, Road Tolls, Route Optimisation, RTTI, RUC, safer driving, safer journeys, Safety app, School Bus, Schoolbus, SoLoMo, the future, TomTom, traffic, traffic congestion, Traffic Control, traffic demand, traffic design, Traffic Information, Traffic jam, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, Transport, travel demand management, Travel Information, Truck GPS, Truck Navigation, truck safety, Trucks, Why fleet management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Videos About GPS, Apps, Maps and More: Location Based Shorts. The Eyes Have It.

Where could you find that scene?

Location Based Shorts is a new series where I am embarking on a new series of sub 3 minute VLOGS (Video Blogs) about things that interest me and if you follow me, probably will interest you.

I comment on things taking place in the world of location based services which can take in almost anything.

The first eight short videos cover:

  • A Japanese stalker who used a number of technologies including reflections in his victim’s eyes from a selfie she posted at her usual train station, to identify her commute, working out her train station using Google Street View. He followed her home and viciously attacked her.
  • A new WiFi based technology that will allow police to digitise the unique gait , the way someone walks from a video, such as a security camera video and using software combined with existing WiFi or portable WiFi transceivers located outside, to confirm that the unique suspect they are pursuing is in a building (through the wall). This could save countless lives if it ends up with shots being fired.
  • The latest innovative new technologies from the 2019 Dubai Congress of Driverless Transport, some of which are already being trialed.
  • Sticker from Tile. A new type of peer to peer tracking device based on the Tile network that you can stick in your wallet, on your keyring or other valuables. Does it deserve to be stuck up on a pedestal?
  • People searching for a car park represents 30% of urban traffic congestion. With a focus on pushing people onto public transport by reducing the number of urban carparks councils plan to reduce the traffic jams. Will it work?
  • The Thailand Department of Land Transport is going to make GPS tracking devices compulsory in all public cars. You can track where that is going, but if not I’ll tell you the direction I think it will take.
  • Connected cars, 5G and the new features that everyone wants from a car but don’t really want to pay a premium for. Let’s cruise through a list of them.
  • Domino’s Pizza are going to trial Robot Food Delivery. People don’t want to drive for them, so they are working on a future where the drivers get what they want and customers have hot food arriving on a shelf in their driveways. That future arrives in Houston in 2019.
Subscribe to the playlist for more
Posted in #TheGPSMadeMeDoIt, Accurate Map Tracking, Autonomous cars, Bank Robbery, Best GPS, Best Practice GPS, Bluetooth, Car Navigation, Car Parking, Car Robot, car safety, Car Technology, car tracker, carpark information, carparking, cars, Catch Crooks with GPS, commuting, Concept Car, congestion, connected cars, disruptive model, Driverless car, Driverless Cars, driverless vehicles, drivers, driving, driving app, Future, future car, Future Technology, Futurist, Gadgets, Government, GPS, GPS Car Nav, GPS features, GPS MAde Me Do IT, GPS Maps, GPS Nav, GPS Navigation, GPS Police Tracker, GPS Problems, GPS Track People, GPS Tracker, GPS Tracking, Hacker, Hackers, Hacking, HAcking cars, Indoor Navigation, Innovation, Intelligent Transport Systems, Internet of Things, Internet Privacy, IoT, law enforcement, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, Location Based Education, Location Based Servces, Location Based Shorts, Luggage tracking, Map apps, mapping buildings, Maps, mobile travel apps, Motoring, nav apps, new cars, parking, parking apps, Police, Privacy, real time traffic, Road Tolling, Road Tolls, road trip, robots, RUC, safer driving, safer journeys, Safety app, Smart Car, Smart City, SmartPhone, Smartphones, Social Media, spy, stolen, Stolen cars, the future, top apps, Track Thieves, Tracking Apps, traffic, traffic congestion, Traffic Control, traffic demand, traffic design, Traffic Information, Traffic jam, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, Transport, travel demand management, Travel Information, V2V | Leave a comment