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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Spark of an Integrated Cycling Network?

The Taiwan News reports that the government is working on creating an "intelligent system" (yes... I know... government and intelligent system) for managing "cycling convoys".

First, I have to say that I am thrilled they chose the term "convoy". It brings back the old, inspiring C.W. McColl tune (Yes, this is in my ipod for biking).

The system, consisting of a global positioning system (GPS) and online map technologies, automatically issues a warning to the leader of a bike convoy equipped with smartphones when any member of the group lags far behind, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a recent statement.

"When you get lost or have a flat tire, all you have to do is to press a button and you can immediately inform others of your situation," the ministry said.

The system is aimed not just at enhancing the safety of cyclists but also to help them share their fun, according to the ministry.

"Bikers can use a feature to share photos or videos with their family members to show where they are and what they have seen along the trip," the statement said.

What the article does not tell us is: Who is eligible to use the service? How does one apply for access the service? Can be used by non-Mandarin speakers to accommodate foreign visitors.

It sounds proactive and intriguing, but so do unicorns. It also sounds a lot like something that can be achieved with existing cell-phone technology. If I get a flat I can call the leader. If I want to share photos I can capture and send. Most modern cell-phones have GPS and mapping applications. Hmmmm!

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