It’s the people, not the packages

The Beijing Olympic Games is the largest yet, with thousands of athletes and many more officials, trainers, journalists and visiting spectators.

Put this into the middle of one of the World’s largest and busiest cities and it is a major challenge to move people around and get them where they need to be on time.

Many of these people will be first time visitors and, being non-Chinese speakers, will have the devil’s-own time navigating around Beijing.

With no street numbering schemes, inconsistent and sometimes non-existent signage, breakneck development that changes the map daily, the language gap and world-class traffic congestion, simply getting from A to B in Beijing is the root of countless “China war stories” that international visitors bring home.

As getting a taxi will be a nightmare during games time, many large companies have hired fleets of cars and drivers.

This will make life easier, but adds further problems, like locating your car and driver – not so easy when a major event has just finished and thousands are spilled onto the roadside, all trying to do the same thing.

SmartTrans is well known in the Australian marketplace for developing logistics solutions to optimise the use of delivery fleets using innovative technology.

SmartTrans also did the job of routing the fleet of VIP vehicles for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, so they set themselves the task of developing an improved, updated version for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The solution they came up with is SmartTrans EventTrack®, which is a handheld device combining automatic location (GPS), a guidebook and a phone.

In addition, there are some extra features which provide logistics support of a sophisticated level, but concealed in a simple user interface.

Using a standard PDA (personal digital assistant) with built-in GPS, the innovative software performs a set of integrated functions.

From the user’s point-of-view, the unit functions as:

  • a mobile phone with free local calls (calls from one Australian mobile to another in Beijing involve expensive “trombone trunking” via the Australian telephone system)
  • a “friend finder” which allows the delegate to locate all his colleagues on a full-colour city map and communicate with them at a button push
  • “where am I?” security showing the user’s position on a map
  • a guidebook showing points of interest, such as restaurants, Olympic venues, bars, etc. and directions in Chinese to show to the taxi driver or chauffeur
  • a talking translator with hundreds of phrases such as “Can I have a receipt please”.

From the logistics point-of-view, the unit can be used to order your driver to pick you up, even if you can’t describe where you are (the built-in GPS provides this automatically) and to specify a destination and time you need to be there.

As far as the delegate knows, it just happens.

Behind the scenes, the SmartTrans system establishes from the many “job requests” what drivers and vehicles can be allocated most efficiently, estimates journey times to pick-up and drop-off and allocates accordingly.

A confirmation is sent back to the delegate with confirmation of times and a picture of the driver.

The driver has a device in Chinese with a picture of the delegate at the same time. They can both see the icons on the map converging for a rendezvous.

The major thing to ensure is that the delivery time-window is not violated, as this could be an Olympic event.

Unfortunately, the other aspect that has to be taken into account at major events is security.

The device is configured to show the delegate’s location: a) to himself b) to colleagues and friends (with permission) c) to the group co-ordinator.

This allows delegates to be located, sent messages or talked to in a major (or minor) emergency.

More practically, group messages of the “beer o’clock” variety are much prized by group co-ordinators (and thirsty delegates).

SmartTrans EventTrack got an excellent boost by having the Australian Prime Minister, The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP speak at the launch of the new product in Beijing on 10th April, where he said:

“If any foreigner does get lost in Beijing, the fault will be theirs for not having invested themselves personally in SmartTrans EventTrack.”

“To have Australian technology in the hands of so many of the world’s company representatives as they move throughout Beijing is a unique and wonderful opportunity to showcase Australia’s practical solutions to unique problems in unique environments,” Rudd says.

Support of this kind at the highest level was much appreciated and has spurred SmartTrans on to ensure Beijing 2008 is a great success.

Although the focus is very much on the Beijing Olympiad at the moment, SmartTrans EventTrack has been configured to perform at any large event, such as the Asian Games in Guangzhou (2010), the Shanghai Expo (2010), the soccer World Cup (2010), the Winter Olympics in Canada, etc.

In Australia, there are logistics applications for EventTrack in controlling and communicating with personnel, such as sales forces, merchandisers, chauffeurs in fleets, and so on.

Please contact Grant Boydell or Tim Herring at SmartTrans for further information or to discuss how they can help with your specific logistics opportunity.

SmartTrans Limited is a leader in tracking, mobile data and delivery optimisation systems in Australia, and now in China.

It has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Beijing and is quoted on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX: SMA).

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