sábado, 4 de agosto de 2012

Using Twitter in Public Transports (english version)

In an article published in the daily newspaper La Vanguardia by Joana Bonet titled “Burbujas con pin” (bubbles with pin), the important changes which smartphones, eBooks, ipod and other electronic devices have on our manner to communicate and to relate ourselves with other human beings are mentioned. In this article three of these changes were pointed out:

The protection these devices provide us, with regard to strangers who share the same space with us (like metro or bus stations, corridors in public installations, etc.) where “people don’t look themselves openly in the eyes any more, but take refuge in their screens”. This vision clashes frontally with the one defined by George Amar and his concept of “religance” in transportation, which has been explained in a number of articles of this blog. This term maybe responds to the multifaceted vision of a human phenomenon sufficiently complex as to explain it with a single paradigm.

Significant is the autosufficiency which we gain with the use of these devices, as we no longer have to ask a stranger how to reach a certain place or our current location. The GPS and all its applications have given us access to the immediate knowledge of our position in a system of worldwide reference. But it also has been a great progress for conjugal live, of which I can bear witness, as I’ve made a lot of kilometres on the European roads accompanied by my wife. First with a voluminous atlas and later on with the GPS receptor Tom-Tom: its many hours of stupid discussions over interpretation and execution that this little electronic commodity has spared us. It’s obvious that – although put aside – we have not abandoned the old Shell Atlas, as the technology sometimes still succumbs to various incidents which this traditional road book can endure.

And in the third place, the article highlights a new “private bubble”, expression created by the Israeli city planner Tali Hatuka to name the isolation from the phisical world, these technologies provide for us. They seduce ourselves with new forms of communication and entertainment which occupy our time, especially the time we need to move ourselves. Now we find ourselves in the strange circumstance that while travelling we can be at 20 cm of another person and easily ignore him or her. The small device creates an invisible bubble around us, which isolates us from the other passengers, more or less anonymous companions of our commute flows to and through the big metropolis.

Barcelona's underground
Barcelona's underground

A few months ago I had the luck to assist to a conference organized by AMTU in Martorell, in which Sanderijn Baanders was explaining in her speech "Impact of social media in public transport. Use of Twitter in The Netherlands" some of the conclusions from the studies about the impact of the use of the social networks in the public means of transport.

Communication via internet has diversified notably: from the more conventional means as websites, newletters, electronic mails or SMS, over social networks (Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter and Youtube) until the most recent applications apps disigned for use in smartphones, as for example the QR codes. It is interesting to observe, what influence for example Twitter has on the transportation (in the conference the case of the Netherlands was explained) with the flow of information that circulates between operators with passengers and vice versa or between the passengers of public transport themselves. The speaker pointed out that depending on the kind of fluctuations, the type of information interchanged also varied. Sanderijn Baanders classified three groups of information interchange:

Of the operator to the users:
The information given in this flow of information is basically about the stops, time-schedules, news about the operating company, incidents, delays, interruptions of the service or answers to the most frequent questions of the clients.

Of the users to the operator:
The information basically refers to complaints about the service rendered by the operator, concrete or general questions, information about vandalism and to a lesser extent about suggestions for the improvement of the service.

Between the users:
The information usually are messages of sympathy, compliments and encouragements, also information interchanges about ticket controls, discussions of passengers and information about events, incidents, flash mob, even accidents that might produce themselves in the infrastructure of the transport network.

Baanders gave data of two Twitter users: @NS_online  (National Railways) Dutch train operator, now  while I'am writting this post has 46.000 followers with an average of 500 – 1.000 tweets per week and @TotalOVNL a user who informs about the ticket controls via Twitter with 11.900 followers and an average of 250 – 1.200 tweeds per week. At the end of the speech different operators present confirmed that also in Spain information systems about ticket controls to users had been detected. Nowadays, information no longer is an exclusive good for only a few, the new technologies are at the disposition of everyone (and reasonably priced); there will always be new tools for the old objectives.

Twitter is a very easy tool to use, with a rapid growth in wide sectors of the population and in which the messages send by the operators to inform their users about incidents or news related to public transport have a very good reception. Twitter is converting itself into an important information tool in comparison with the low quality of other communication means about the interruptions or incidents in the public transport. Let us keep the evolution of this tool and its utility in the mobility of the human being in mind.

Twitter user
 Twitter user

Do you think that Twitter is a threat for the ticket controls in itinere?

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