Mobile Virtual Communities of Commuters
Jalal Kawash (American University of Sharjah, UAE), Christo El Morr (York University, Canada), Hamza Taha (American University of Sharjah, UAE) and Wissam Charaf (American University of Sharjah, UAE)
Copyright: © 2008
Commuting forms an integral part of our lives, whether we are commuting for leisure or business. The use of location-based services and mobile computing has potentials to improve commuting experience and awareness. For instance, printed bus schedules have been only recently complemented with online systems to provide bus timing information for the community of public transport commuters. Commuters can nowadays inquire about bus timings by the use of telephony systems and the Internet. However, the information provided to users is statically produced, just like the still in-use old fashion bus route tables, and does not take into consideration delays and cancellations. The next step in the evolution of these schedules must produce live information, track bus movements, and alert commuters of bus arrivals and timings. The experience of commuting using taxis can also be improved beyond the use of telephony, while the most common way of asking for a taxi continues to be by hand waiving. Such improvements are more crucial for commuters that are not completely aware of their surrounding environment, such as tourists and business visitors. This article envisions the formation of networked organizations of commuters, through the use of mobile and location-based services. We discuss scenarios and use cases of such organizations and propose an example software implementation for the supporting services.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Mobile Virtual Community: A virtual community whose members play their roles while on the move, using mobile and handheld devices, not necessarily hooked to a wired network.
Mobile Virtual Community of Commuters: A mobile virtual community whose members are commuters and its social purpose is enhancing users’ awareness of a public transport system.
Virtual Community: A community in which the meeting place is virtual, such as the Internet.
traVcom: A software system that provides services for enabling and supporting the formation of mobile virtual communities of commuters.
Sociability: Sociability represents the level of social interaction support in a community. In a virtual community this is supported by the community purpose, governance structure, roles, policies, and by a set of tools for community members’ awareness, privacy, and personalization.
Commuter: A public transport system user.
Community: A community consists of interacting members, playing roles in order to satisfy a social purpose, and governed by social policies.