in Social Design

Paper train tickets are for dinosaurs

No not really, paper comes in handy where alternatives cannot escape the shadow of paper, see also my blog about Hamlets Blackberry. Why I came up with this item, is because Jack came up with some excellent mash-ups with train tickets. However I do think there will be more future in electronic ticketing than in glossy and shiny custom made train tickets.

Context awareness

The reason why I think there is more future in e-ticketing is because these type of tickets can be used rather easy on context aware devices. Combining your ticket and your device (your ticket on the device) can make the live of a traveler a lot easier. For example a hypothetical person called John wants to travel from location A to B and he wants to arrive around 10 o’clock at location B, his device knows that he prefers train above car transport and that it is no issue to use mixed transport means.

Based on these parameters the device calculates what is the optimal journey for John, taking all parameters into account. After this calculation finished the device will show a few alternatives for John to make his journey. John can agree on one of these alternatives or adjust them a little a more to his own needs (the device will learn from the adjustments he made). Lets say John agrees, the device will make all necessary bookings and set its alarm clock. After that John will go bed since his journey starts early that next morning. While John is sleeping his device is monitoring the different transport means which will be used in Johns travel. The device notices that the train John should take has an delay of 10 minutes, therefore the device will wake up John 10 minutes later.

As soon John is awake, his device will guide him during his start of his journey. Again he is alerted by the device when it is five minutes before the cab will arrive. John will have enough time to fetch his coat and to go outside to get into the cab. Meanwhile in the cab his device suggests John what he could take for breakfast. Not only Johns preferences are taken into account, also the preferences of friends of John which he marked as trusted parties are used. Based on Johns preferences and the preferences of his friends the device suggest him to have a croissant and some nice tea. John gets again the possibility to agree to this proposal or either decide to have other things for breakfast his device will learn from his decision.

Increasing customer experience

As soon as he arrives at the station the device guides him to his train and to his seat in the train. At his seat is a little box containing his breakfast (nice hot tea included). Not only is he having a nice breakfast, he is also accompanied by people who share the same interests as he has. This is important to John since he is the talkative type and therefore he entered in his device the preference that he prefers a bit of conversation while traveling. Since the other people in his train share the same preferences and interest the devices of these people arranged them close to each other (It is not unthinkable John will meet his wife one day thanks to his context aware device).

During his train journey John can be informed about the fact that he can be better take another train, since his train will stop two stations early than planned. While being transferred to the other train his device guides him to a free seat while matching most of his other preferences. As soon as he arrives at the train destination his device guides him towards location B. John decides the weather is that good, he can take another route to location B and catch some sun too. Again his device learns from the decisions John make and will store these in it preferences.

You e-ticket could be to start or real excitement

All this above cannot be achieved with a paper ticket (well matchmaking could be done with paper tickets ;)). I do think that context aware devices can make life (or at least travelling) at lot easier. Why should you bother to adjust your alarm clock since your train is leaving some minutes earlier than it normal does, why should you bother to keep refreshing web pages to be sure your journey is still on schedule, why should be queueing to get your tea and why should you wonder why your are drinking cold tea in the train since you had a ten minute walk to your train since it is departing from another gate. Why bother anyways, why not help yourself with a guiding tool that not only can guide you during your journey, but can also get you in touch with people of the same interest to have a short conversation and that will learn from the habits and decisions of his owner .

Let your e-ticket and your context aware device help you from the moment it is booked. Your e-ticket is the input for your device and your journey. You will probably have more time to sleep and you will gain some new friends. All though if you would like to have some more new friends going to a pub without your context aware device will be probably more efficient.