A Web 2.0 nod to Spock and Kirk.

What if I endeavored “to construct a pneumonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins”?

To wit, could I recreate the NextBus system using “off the shelf” Web 2.0 infrastructure and cheap gear?

For a modestly discounted fee of $850,000? Yes! Yes! Yes!

My tinkertoy Web 2.0 application might resemble the MoloGoGo web service:

Mologogo is a free service that will track a friend’s GPS-enabled cell phone from another phone or on the web. Mologogo also serves as a dirt-cheap tracking system, so go ahead and fauxjack something.

First, I’d either develop my own Web-based tracking software (using open source components, of course) or purchase any one of a dozen “NexTel-ready” GPS-based fleet-tracking packages.

Next, I’d purchase 83 NexTel GPS-enabled telephones and signup for an unlimited access NexTel business plan.

Each phone would be securely attached to the vehicle’s dashboard.

Next, I’d reward Chapel Hill’s confidence by upping the number of signs to 40. Each digital sign would be backed with a ruggedized, embedded, Wifi-enabled PC.

Finally, I’d deploy a MESHd Wifi/WiMAX network along our transit corridors.

My own application? A Google map mashup based on each of the GPS-enabled phones’ realtime location feed.

My costs?

  • Cost of application software development or purchase.
  • 83 GPS phones.
  • NexTel’s reasonable monthly charges.
  • The occasional replacement phone.
  • A cheap offsite web-hosting service.
  • A few WiMAX stations (supporting fixed/mobile standards) for Internet backhaul.
  • Several hundred MESHed solar-powered Wifi units based on Champaign-Urbana’s CuWin units.
  • 40 embedded Wifi-capable PCs and 40 digital signs for the bus stops.
  • A few eager college students to run tech support.

What might the application look like?

Something like this Google Map mashup, compliments of NextBus ;-)!

Hey, maybe I should shop this app around to the venture capitalists!

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