Push to Talk service is a game changer for the taxi industry. Large geographical two way radio coverage, high sound quality, low monthly costs, high efficiency with private calls and queuing systems, great flexibility and no new investment in hardware. This was something that the taxi industry could only dream of a few years ago.
Today, many taxi companies use our Push to Talk solution in their already existing smartphones through the GroupTalk app. Taxi Norra Uppland is now moving its business into the digital sphere and towards the modern technological society of the future, away from outdated communication tools such as walkie talkies with a lack of range, congested telephone exchange and unnecessary costs for non functioning communication services.
The article from SKEF News - CCS (Issue 1, 2022) is written in English down below.
Watch the video under the article to learn about additional opportunities available for the taxi industry to take advantage of.
Article from SKEF News - CCS 2022
With minimal costs and a short run-in time, Taxi Norra Uppland introduced a completely mobile based two way radio system. “It has made us more efficient and we never have to worry about coverage any more," says Inge Pettersson, one of the owners of the taxi company.
Taxi Norra Uppland is a regional taxi company with around 50 taxis that, with the town of Tierp as their base, move over a relatively large area. The company's history stretches back to 1993 when many small local taxi companies in different villages decided to scrap their local taxi exchanges and cooperate in a joint company. We are still 16 shareholders, mostly self-employed, who run Taxi Norra Uppland together. I myself have driven a taxi for over 33 years, says Inge Pettersson, who is one of the co-owners. He explains that the base of the joint venture's operations is school transport, travel services and medical trips.
Traditionally, the taxi industry has used analog two way radios (walkie talkies) to announce rides to cars and as an individual rider announce that you are available to drive. The vehicle mounted taxi computers with taximeters and connection to booking systems that came about ten years ago obviously mean an increase in efficiency. We can accept drives and report that you are free for a new customer. The need for two way radio communication has decreased.
Two way radio is still important
Despite this change in technology, Inge believes that there is still a fairly large need for spoken communication, for example when question marks arise around driving or from a safety perspective in the event of incidents. Here, the existing analog two way radio (walkie talkie) they used was a big problem, because you move over relatively large areas.
Problems with coverage
Lack of coverage led to poor audibility and riders often had to call in to supplement. Calls over mobile phones are good in many ways, but impractical when you want to reach many people at the same time. And if we as riders call the taxi exchange, we block them at the same time because we are able to receive customer calls for new runs to us.
The challenge that Taxi Norra Uppland was therefore faced with first and foremost finding a solution for two way communication that worked - not only out in the Uppland countryside but also during drives to, for example, the airport Arlanda and medical trips into Uppsala city. But also make communication more efficient with your own taxi exchange.
"We did an experiment with digital two way radio, DMR, which, among other things, has the option of selective calls, but even here there were clear limitations in com radio coverage. So how far the bases reach beyond the major roads and communities.”
Taxi Norra Uppland therefore had to see if there was another solution. A limited attempt was made to use GroupTalk's collaboration app for mobile phones and corresponding PC software in the taxi exchange. Soon we saw the great potential of this solution which, with an app, transforms the taxi's existing smartphone to a two way radio. We could state that we now had radio coverage everywhere with the Telia subscriptions we already had in our mobile phones. The sound quality was also very good, much better, says Inge Pettersson. The trial turned out well and shortly afterwards all cars were connected to the company's Taxi exchange.
No expensive terminals
The entire solution thus consists of a mobile phone and a "remote control" that controls the app via bluetooth. This is so that the driver does not have to let go of the steering wheel. The Bluetooth connected device varies between taxis but has three basic buttons: Call (push to talk), assistance request and flag that you are available to drive.
"I can see several advantages with this solution in addition to fantastic coverage and sound quality," says Inge Pettersson. Firstly, low monthly costs and minimal need for new hardware.
Instead of calling and "disturbing" the exchange, you just press the assistance / queue button. Then we end up in a queue on their taxi exchange's computer screens. He believes that this has subsequently reduced the load and stress on the staff in the taxi exchange. They can choose to call the taxi individually over the radio when they are free. It minimizes the need for phone calls and also reduces the "noise" internally as the exchange can choose to call a specific taxi. Overall, it saves time and money for all of us. But there are more advantages, says Inge Pettersson. And it spells flexibility.
“We can manage all the configurations ourselves. From customized ptt groups to call forwarding. For example, during evenings and weekends when the taxi exchange is closed, we are only a handful of cars rolling. Then we connect all incoming calls to one of the cars that handles the distribution of drives."
Are there no disadvantages to GroupTalk?
"In that case, it would be that colleagues that are on their holiday call from the sun lounger on the other side of the world and tell the rest of us how warm it is in the sea.”
Taxi and two way radio on the mobile phone...
Advantages of two way radio in the mobile phone according to Inge Pettersson, Taxi Norra Uppland: