There’s no doubt that the taxi and private hire industry has come a long way since the horse and carts of the 1600s, but it is really in the last 25 years that the industry has seen exponential growth with the emergence and continued development of a variety of technology solutions. Here we cover how Autocab’s technology has helped shape our industry, from pen and paper and plotting boards to mobile data terminals and cloud-based dispatch software.

Pen and paper

In the early days, the taxi and private hire industry kept life simple. Bookings would come in from passengers, the office would record the details and pass the info on to the driver. See, we told you it was simple! Drivers would go off and complete their job and then return to the office to get the next one; taking it in turns with each other.

Following the introduction of two-way radio, drivers no longer had to return to the office for their next job and could instead listen out for work over the airways.

Booking systems / databases

As the popularity of taxis continued to increase, simple booking systems such as plotting boards started to emerge. These systems allowed dispatchers in the office to plot bookings as they came in and, more importantly, know where their drivers were so they could send the best placed one.

The use of tracking and plotting boards was the start of booking systems as we know them today. By knowing roughly where their drivers were, and perhaps more importantly, where they were going to be, firms could provide a better customer service and process jobs quicker.

Data dispatch systems

With the development of tracking and plotting boards, specialist technology companies saw an opportunity to develop solutions to help firms improve their services even further. Early innovators including Autocab, offered data dispatch systems designed to improve efficiency and overall profitability.

What’s more, the new systems were among the first to link a computer system in the office with a vehicle, enabling information to be transferred between the two. This started with simple information such as driver location and car availability, improving the experience for all involved.

Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs)

As more and more data dispatch systems were developed, the importance of Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) increased. These terminals played a key role in transferring data and information between offices and vehicles and helped drive the industry forward.

Early MDTs such as ‘DATCOMs’ were limited in their functionality and used radio waves to transmit data. As technology advanced, so did MDTs! Terminals using GPS such as Autocab’s D21 came and went, and were replaced by hybrid systems combining both radio and GPS such as Autocab’s Sigma+. Further advancements brought driver aides such as rolling maps, integrated satnavs and touch screen displays (Autocab’s Minos) as well as GPRS only systems and started the transition towards personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)

As the taxi and private hire industry began to transition to PDAs, a new threat to the industry emerged. Uber, based in the US, entered the market in 2010 and sent shockwaves through the industry. Taking advantage of mobile app technologies, they provided apps for both passengers and drivers; enabling them to achieve 100% automation in the process.

With both Uber and the incumbent technology providers making the switch to PDAs, the industry was able to send larger and more detailed data packets between the office and drivers, taking advantage of the widespread GPRS networks; in turn offering passengers unrivalled customer service. Nowadays passengers know who their driver is, what car they drive and, in the case of passenger apps, exactly where their driver is and when they’ll arrive.

Cloud-based systems

With the widespread adoption of the internet, it was only a matter of time before dispatch providers deployed their software via the cloud. Cloud-based systems such as Autocab’s Ghost Cloud, have enabled staff in offices to log on and work from any location; all whilst increasing system reliability.

The switch to Cloud-based systems is just the latest in a long line of developments in our industry, with passengers now able to book a car: in person; over the phone; using Interactive Voice Response (IVR); via a mobile app; using a website; and via a kiosk. Where do you see the industry changing next? 

To find out how Autocab is helping to future-proof firms and ensure that they are prepared for all eventualities, request a demo today.


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