The Technology Treadmill

Feb. 9, 2012

[need Wi-Fi logo by 5th paragraph, farecard near 6th paragraph]

It wasn't long ago that a reasonably handy person could tune-up his or her car, get a stalled one started or install a few aftermarket electronics. I used to feel confident lifting the hood to see what needed adjusting. Now it's an assortment of black plastic boxes that look the same whether they work or not. Engine repairs and adjustments are best left to the men in white coats with diagnostic computer software, and no longer are the domain of someone who only occasionally twists a wrench.

In this issue and next month's we focus on technology; the critical infrastructure powering your operations. You don't have to completely understand what's in the black boxes, but you do need to know which ones to acquire and how to derive the greatest benefits from your IT equipment.

The electronics experts continue their unrelenting drive forward with vastly improved mobile applications. What amenities are your customers expecting on a bus, in a train car, on your website or on their phone? Have you correctly anticipated which systems to offer, the ones that gain widespread acceptance?

Just as last year's smartphone is way behind the curve, the obsolescence clock is ticking on all the innovations you may have recently installed. Or, if the acquisition budget wasn't there, you might have slipped further behind. Keeping up can feel like running on a treadmill that's going just a little too fast.

Our consulting editor, Jim Baker, provides insight on upcoming Wi-Fi and 4G LTE issues in his "Unwired" blog, "Why Sharing Information on Innovation is a Good Thing." In his piece subtitled: "Unwired suggests that sharing experiences about wireless technology implementation might help transit agencies avoid reinventing the wheel," Jim recounts the perils of navigating the airwaves and what you should consider in any proposed implementation. Go to

How about the latest in farecards? Do your cards offer transfers, work across your system and coordinate with partners such as car or bike sharing, or is that going to be the next complex step? Do your customers know how to use their new cards? We'll bring you the latest on the challenges of universal cards in our upcoming March issue.

As we launch into the new year, I look forward to seeing the inevitable innovations and maybe stepping up my pace a bit at the next conference showcase to take it all in.