To facilitate the development of taxi industry and provide real-time services to the passengers, Kaohsiung City Government has worked with Datarget Innovation to build a comprehensive management platform that puts together Open Data both from the government and the private sector, including five taxi companies. The number shows that the platform works very well in taking the passenger load factor up by 22.6%, and has become a good example of such cooperation.
“How people in the North and people in the South of Taiwan use taxi services are totally different,” said Hsieh Wen-hsing, project manager of Datarget Innovation. In Taipei, taxi could be seen wherever you go, so it’s easy to just get a cab on the street when you need one. In Kaohsiung, however, people are used to booking a taxi by calling the taxi company. All kinds of business activities and events are held in Taipei every day, so most taxi drivers know how to go to some of the popular event venues very well, while the events in Kaohsiung are not held as frequently and might be dispersed in different places. Taxi drivers there only know which passenger hot spots to go either through experience sharing, or words-of-mouth. Datarget and Kaohsiung’s taxi companies have had many discussions on how to take the aforementioned differences in taxi services in to the design of their service, as well as how to better manage taxi booking and dispatch data.
After visiting more than a dozen taxi companies, Datarget found out that “local taxi companies have hesitations about giving out their data”. Thanks to the full support by Kaohsiung City Government, Datarget continued to talk and communicate with them, and eventually got them agree to open up their data that were originally stored in the database of the telecommunication service provider, and established a comprehensive management platform.
The platform gathers information from different channels, such as Open Datasets on transportation from Kaohsiung City Government, such as real-time data of vehicles (both dynamic and static data, updated every five minutes), car camcorder data of Chunghua Satellite, Ruilong-Hawaii United, and other three taxi companies to analyze hotspots (embarking/disembarking), duration of each travel, history data and distribution of hotspots, while producing visualized operation data.
In terms of hotspots analysis for embarking/disembarking, both the embarking and disembarking points will be marked on the map. With more samples and data collected, it is possible to find out some of the popular spots people love to get on or get off from a taxi. Data on duration of each travel, on the other hand helps the companies understand how each travel of a specific driver looks like (is it mostly short travels or long travels, or a mix of two?), and take relevant measures.
Hsieh pointed out that the platform saved taxi drivers much time and money, as well as energy. “Now that they know where the passengers might be, they don’t have to drive around all the time, and save hundreds of dollars of gas money every month.” A total of 821 taxis benefit from this new service: 11.6 travel times per day before versus 14.1 times per day now, an increase of load factor by 22.6%, and less oil consumption up to 1,463 liters per day. This shows what data could do for a more efficient and effective service.
Datarget is also working on integrating weather Open Data to the application in the hope to provide taxi companies more information. By doing so, consumers will also have faster and easier access to the services they need.