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© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

ImageAdelaide, October 22 (IANS): Each day thousands of commuters across the world wait for a bus or a train, wondering when would it arrive? Now a group of local and international students studying at Carnegie Mellon University’s Adelaide campus have created a solution that would tell you exactly when your bus or train will be at your stop.

The Sandora Prototype 1.0 is a tracking system, which sends live timetable information and a Google Map showing the location of the vehicle, direct to mobile phones by SMS. Commuters can obtain the information either in advance of their intended trip or while waiting at or near a bus stop.

The system works by a GPS enabled device being placed on a bus, train or tram that sends regular information about its location to a server. This information is then compared with the original static timetable to calculate its arrival time at a particular stop.

“Sandora is an easy to set-up cost-effective, time management tool that will reduce waiting time by providing live information for users of transport services. It can be accessed via mobile phones or the internet at little or no cost to the user”, says Phil Allan, Sandora’s team leader.

The system that utilises existing technologies and minimal hardware development may prove useful for densely populated countries like India, expected to have some 492 million mobile phone users by the year-end.

“Waiting for a bus in India’s metropolitan cities is often a frustrating experience for the millions of people who use it and managing traffic is one of the biggest challenges. With Sandora, commuters can expect a service that will make their travelling to work more convenient, and possibly quicker”, says Akhilesh Harsh, one of the team of  Master of Science in Information Technology students who have created the system.

“As New Delhi gears up to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games, public or private companies would benefit in managing the city’s traffic if they choose to implement the Sandora system. Having a world class traffic management system will also reduce the number of cars clogging the roads”, Harsh, who migrated to Australia in 1994 from Bikaner (Rajasthan) and now works for the South Australian Government as a Data Warehouse Systems Administrator told IANS.

A successful prototype of the service has been recently tested on the Adelaide Connector bus service. The prototype uses SMS messages to send the location information for the bus. However, future versions of Sandora will send this date either as TCP/IP data packets over the 3G Network or via a URL connection.

As Dave Hepworth, another member of the team, told IANS:  “Sandora is not designed to make the bus run on time, but at least you now how long it is until the next one arrives. Our slogan is ‘Never miss your bus again’. ”

Sandora can also be configured to provide other information such as interruptions to services, alternative transport services and disability access. “It can also monitor school buses and taxi locations. One of our main objectives is to encourage people to use mobile as a productivity tool rather than just a personal communication tool,” says the project’s supervisor, Associate Professor Riaz Esmailzadeh.

The system has many environmental and economic benefits, if implemented in global cities. It would encourage people to use public transport rather than private vehicles as they will be able to make better informed and timely choices, which would in turn lead to reduction in emissions and noise pollution.

“More use of public transport will generate revenue for state Transport authorities, and may actually drive the reduction of ticket costs and create savings for households”,  says Anne Sy (ANNE SY) an international student from Philippines, who is happy to get an American University education in a conducive tropical climate and a time zone closer to home country.

International education is now worth more than AU$ 805 million to the South Australian state economy with over 4,800 Indian overseas students enrolled in the state’s universities who choose Adelaide for being “affordable, safe and quiet”.

As Harsh, who is in his final semester of the 3-1/2 year course and has been fortunate to receive 75 per cent scholarship towards each semester of study says, “Carnegie Mellon is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and the chance to get such a high quality American qualification in Australia was too good to miss”.

© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from any content is expressly prohibited without  the permission of the writer and the news agency through which the article is syndicated.   
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