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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER ONE Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2011. Use and Deployment of Mobile Device Technology for Real-Time Transit Information. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13323.
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Page 9
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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER ONE Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2011. Use and Deployment of Mobile Device Technology for Real-Time Transit Information. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13323.
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Page 10

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7 bility, and method of dissemination (push/pull); the use of standards; and the reliability and accuracy of the informa- tion. The fourth dimension covers the resources required to successfully deploy information on mobile devices, includ- ing capital, operations, and maintenance costs; agency staff requirements; customer costs; and other resources (e.g., managing an external application development program). The fifth and final dimension is the contribution of mobile messaging to an overall agency communications strategy, including “information equity.” Here, information equity is defined as providing real-time information by means of at least two dissemination media in both audio and visual formats. The primary focus of the synthesis is on determining the experience with providing real-time information on mobile devices in the United States and abroad, and how agencies are using this dissemination channel to serve the needs of their customers. The synthesis includes a brief discussion using social media on mobile devices as an additional way of providing real-time transit information. A review of the relevant literature in the field is combined with surveys of selected transit agencies and other appropri- ate stakeholders to report on the current state of the prac- tice. The survey was designed to obtain information on the aforementioned dimensions of providing real-time transit information on mobile devices, including the characteristics of the underlying technology that generates the real-time information, the mobile devices and the mobile displays/ messages, the required resources, and agencies’ experience with providing mobile information, particularly the role that mobile information has in an agency’s communications strategy. Based on survey results, several case studies were developed to describe innovative and successful practices, as well as lessons learned and gaps in information. An impor- tant element of this report is the documented interviews with key personnel at agencies that provide real-time information on mobile devices. TECHNICAL APPROACH TO THE PROJECT This synthesis project was conducted in five major steps. First, a literature review was performed to identify the char- acteristics of the underlying technology, mobile devices, and CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION PROJECT BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES The proliferation of mobile phones and smartphones has resulted in high levels of reliance on these devices to provide basic and personalized communications. The increasing use of these devices provides many opportunities for information dissemination by private and public transportation entities. Further, public transit customers have relatively high expec- tations for real-time information at all stages of their trips. These expectations, combined with the rapidly increasing and widespread use of mobile devices, have led many trans- portation agencies in the United States and abroad to provide information through mobile devices. One additional factor in providing transit information by means of mobile devices is the functional capabilities of these devices [e.g., loca- tion service, Internet browsing, and short message service (SMS)]. Finally, with U.S. transit agencies facing decreasing budgets, providing information by means of mobile devices (“virtual” dissemination) may be more cost-effective than disseminating information through more costly infrastruc- ture, such as dynamic message signs (DMSs). Supporting the myriad mobile devices and platforms available in the marketplace has become a challenge as well. Agencies are turning to third parties that are familiar with the most current devices and platforms to ensure that the information can be made available on a variety of mobile devices without having to employ staff that is knowledge- able about all the platforms. Not only is this a more cost- effective approach to providing the information, but it also ensures that customers will have access to the information regardless of the type of device they are using. This synthesis examines and documents the state of the practice in the use and deployment of real-time transit infor- mation on mobile devices using the following five dimen- sions. The first dimension is the underlying technology that is required to generate the information that will be dissemi- nated on mobile devices. This dimension covers the required underlying software, hardware, and communications. The second dimension is the mobile technology used for informa- tion dissemination, including handset capabilities, and the specific mobile delivery channels used, such as text messag- ing (SMS), mobile Internet, and smartphone applications. The third dimension covers the characteristics of the infor- mation, including message types, content, format, accessi-

8 REPORT ORGANIZATION This report is organized as follows: • Chapter two summarizes the literature review; • Chapter three describes the underlying technology, mobile technology, mobile information, use of stan- dards, and the reliability and accuracy of the mobile information; • Chapter four presents information about the resources necessary to deploy real-time information on mobile devices; • Chapter five discusses the contribution of mobile mes- saging to agency communications strategy; • Chapter six presents case studies from selected agen- cies that have experience providing real-time informa- tion on mobile devices; • Chapter seven summarizes the results of the synthesis and presents conclusions; • Appendix A contains the bibliography for literature that was reviewed; • Appendix B contains the survey instrument; • Appendix C shows the list of responding agencies; and • Appendix D provides additional information. mobile information/messages; resources required to deliver information by means of mobile devices; and contribution of mobile information/messages to an agency’s communica- tions strategy. See the References for a list of references and Appendix A for a complete list of literature reviewed. Second, a survey was conducted to collect information on factors such as types of underlying technology; types of mobile technology and delivery channels used; characteris- tics of mobile information, use of standards, and the reliabil- ity and accuracy of the information; and necessary resources to deploy real-time mobile information. In addition, infor- mation regarding how mobile messaging contributes to an agency’s overall communications strategy was explored through the survey. The survey instrument is in Appendix B, and the list of agencies responding to the survey is in Appendix C. Third, the survey results were analyzed. Fourth, tele- phone interviews were conducted with key personnel at agencies with experience providing real-time information on mobile devices. Chapter six presents case studies from selected agencies that have significant experience with pro- viding information on mobile devices. Finally, the results and conclusions were prepared and documented.

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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 91: Use and Deployment of Mobile Device Technology for Real-Time Transit Information examines the use and deployment of real-time transit information on mobile devices.

The report explores the underlying technology required to generate the information to be disseminated, the mobile technology used for dissemination, the characteristics of the information, the resources required to successfully deploy information on mobile devices, and the contribution of mobile messaging to an overall agency communications strategy, including "information equity."

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