Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Information is Power [1]

Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility.
Thus wrote American feminist activist Robin Morgan, formerly a child film star. We are told that we live in an "information age", privileged to have the benefits of advanced "information technology" systems. A radio presenter was heard to say, "Now we all have smart phones ..."

fbb doesn't, neither does Mrs fbb, neither do Peter and Sue, their chums from church; nor Lawrence, an elder at church, but fbb's little boys (all in their "thirties") do.

We all have smartphones?
fbb does not subscribe to "Passenger Transport" (website here), the fortnightly news and comment periodical for the public transport industry. But occasionally they send out a sample by way of "subtle persuasion". In the most recent issue is an article about bus stop information. In the piece entitled "the Automation of Information", Robert Jack ...
... the editor, extols the virtues of new software from a company called ...
(website here) which claims:-

High quality passenger information is essential to maintain and increase patronage of sustainable transport but producing publicity materials is often a time consuming and inefficient exercise.

We make it painless to publish engaging materials with a comprehensive online solution for sustainable transport information, across all formats; print, web and mobile. An integrated information suite that automatically updates materials, allowing you to publish in a timely manner with an efficient management process.

Use ITO Roadside Information to produce clear, compelling stop-specific information helping to grow passenger numbers, including: maps, timetables, line guides, destination and route finders and QR codes. Our easy to use dashboard and map interface, allows you to see what changes have occurred and publish materials well ahead of time.

Apparently Jeremy Wiggin ...
... of Norfolk County Council is dead chuffed with his new electronic bus stop timetable making toy, and an always interested fbb thought he should "ave a butchers".
The sample computer output display illustrated in "Passenger Transport" is for this bus stop at Caistor St Edmund, a small village south of Norwich.
Before proceeding further, fbb feels fervently that he ought to focus on the fact that the sample display might be just that; a sample to show the impressive nature of the system. Well, he hopes it is, because ...
... the "ito" output calls it Markshall Lane. But the stop is on Stoke Road, not Markshall Lane as is confirmed by fbb's Norfolk street map and the gorgeous Google.
But that's not all. Look at an enlargement of a poor scan from the magazine; and there are a few snags.
Snag 1 : The journey time to Norwich is actually 9 minutes, not 39 as shown. See Anglian's timetable.
Snag 2 : The heading on the panel mentions a service 587R, but Anglian bus don't seem to know what that is.
Snag 3 : 587s and 587Rs appear to run together providing a useful duplicate service for the crowds travelling from Caistor St Edmund ...
... to Poringland, but only 587Rs run back to Norwich.

Snag 4 : Buses to Norwich (northbound) appear to leave from the same stop (Stop A) as buses to Stoke and Poringland which travel southbound. This must involve some very deft and decisive driving.

Snag 5 : The Sunday and Monday to Saturday departures are all mixed up, thus making it all too easy to make a mistake. This is a bludner shared with bus station displays in South Yorkshire. Apparently, according to SYPTE's technical gurus,  it avoids confusion for the passengers!

Apart from these minor trivialities, "ito" and Norfolk County Council are doing a really spiffing job.


Tomorrow we look at another success for an "ito" project, namely bus stop displays for the East Yorkshire company. But (please don't get too excited) fbb will reveal a superb low cost bus stop display system dating from 1964 and earlier.

It was called ...

"Total 'Your Passenger Information System' Technology."

 Next Blog : due Thursday February 16th 

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