Sunday, October 02, 2005

Go-oogle

I wish there was one place to go to plan a route. You could call it go-oogle.

You'd say "I want to go from 23 Acacia Avenue to Rijswijk" and it would give you a route optimised for time, cost, CO2 or Ozone profile, as you wished, covering taxis, trains, flights, boats, subways and so on. Maybe it could search interesting events and suggest a lay-over at a hotel for a concert the night before.

I'd like it to know things like it takes 2 hours to check into an international flight and 45 minutes between a domestic landing at London Stansted to get to the train platform for London. I could tell it that but the database would build up even more quickly if people shared this kind of knowledge.

Another way of looking at it is an expanded Expedia or Transport for London (which does a reasonable job of integrating buses, trains and the Underground metro).

It would get the bulk of it's data from online sources, much like the way I imagine Froogle works. A table and a bit of dynamic programming would work wonders.

You could improve your company's costs by understanding the implications of flying to the outskirts of a city and taking a cab, as opposed to taking a train to the centre.

Revenue from online advertising of travel services in the normal Google style, as well as local services at either end or along the route. It could sell tickets or link to ticket vendors. It could suggest lay-overs to take in concerts.

I wish the future would happen sooner.

5 comments:

rj said...

viamichelin.com does a pretty good job, though not nearly everything you would wish for.

Tim Jervis said...

Closer yet, for the UK at least: http://www.transportdirect.info/

Alan Hart said...

There are some pieces of the puzzle appearing - http://www.kayak.com/ is worth a look, as it searches airlines that aren't listed by the travel agents. But I still haven't seen anything that can cope with "I want to be here at 2pm on day 1, here at 4pm on day 2; just sort it out for me". It needs to address questions like whether to drive, fly, where to fly to, whether it's worth a flight connection, trains, and so on. Tim has also observed that Transport For London do some quite clever things now.

Tim Jervis said...

This is the same idea: A to B Travel at mySociety.org:

http://www.mysociety.org/?p=235

(similar but simpler is the A to B route planning for India's railways, http://www.mysociety.org/?p=242 , also at mySociety.org)

Tim Jervis said...

Another way of looking at it: Google Transit linked with Google Base for local information, augmented with different optimisation criteria and route properties.