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NYC running on a 286

Hi guys,

Being such a big city and all, is there any large or small industries badly in need of a technological wake-up call? Taxis and delivery services are dispatched by GPS and pdas, but are ice cream trucks?

Li-fan Chen
Sunday, February 1, 2004

pizza delivery?

Thursday, February 5, 2004

I thought everyone on New York navigated by Starbucks.

"Go three blocks and you'll see a Starbucks, make a left and go until you see another Starbucks, turn right and my place is halfway down the block next to the Barnes & Noble."
Thursday, February 5, 2004

Are you selling GPS products?I used to be in that business.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

I'm somewhat surprised (though I guess I shouldn't be) at the fact that the city's meter maids are still using paper & pen whereas delivery people (FedEx, UPS, etc.) all have PDA/tablet PC-type devices.  When I think about how I'd implement a hypothetical traffic-enforcement handheld device, I imagine it having:

1) GPS, to get the street location to within a block (user-modifiable to add the nth degree of precision if necessary)
2) List of stolen tag #s (downloaded at the start of every shift?  Or maybe continually updated via wireless?) so stolen cars could get recovered quicker
3) List of scofflaws with way-overdue tickets so the boot/tow truck could be dispatched immediately
4) Bar-code scanner to read the windshield sticker that New York-registered vehicles have (to immediately notify the user if registration/inspection were expired?)
5) Small printer, so as to do away with the annoyance of trying to decipher the faint carbon copy of frequently-illegible handwriting
6) Maybe a digital camera (a la speeding/red light cameras) to make a photographic record of the violation?

And before people get all libertarian-crazy and start yelling 'big brother', let me point out that a) the topic at hand is more accurate & quicker enforcement of laws that already exist, not new ones; and b) this is a design exercise only.  ;-)

So, gadget mavens - did I miss anything?

- former car owner in Queens
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

As I discovered when I was working on the dispatch software for Kozmo, GPS doesn't work so well in NYC.  When you're at the bottom of one of the great avenue/canyons, you can't get a clear shot at three satellites to triangulate off of.  I read that the MTA tried to do this for buses, and it didn't work for them either.

What does work is identifying the 'cell' that a CDPD modem is using.  Unfortunately, it's hard to translate this into a geographic location: cell providers are very secretive about specific cell locations.  At AT&T, I met someone who was trying to get this information from within the company, and it was still like pulling teeth.

Charles Lewis
Friday, February 20, 2004

In Richmond, VA the meter maids use a handheld device that does exactly as described above.  It even includes a little printing device to putput the ticket.  It is smaller than a regular store pricing gun.

Bill Kuster
Monday, February 23, 2004

Not that anybody's paying attention to this thread anymore, but there was an article in yesterday's NY Times on exactly this topic: (Metro section, I think).

The gist of the piece is that the Bloomberg administration is making a big push to modernize the city's use of technology.  It describes a handheld device being used by the city's health inspectors and also mentions the difficulties with getting a reliable GPS signal amongst the tall buildings (but implies that they expect to be able to overcome this).

Full story: 

- former car owner in Queens
Monday, March 15, 2004

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