One of London's largest cab firms is installing a new mobile computing system to quicken customer pick-up times and slash technology roll-out costs in its new fleet.
Black cab firm Xeta claimed that by replacing its private mobile radio network with handheld XDA IIs, using an O2 GPRS network, it is saving around £2,000 a cab and improving customer journeys by integrating applications such as global positioning system (GPS) and billing.
The XDA IIs, which are being rolled out across Xeta's 370 taxis over the next seven months, will also help the firm extend its business outside London, according to managing director Geof Kaley.
"Private mobile radio was proving a cul-de-sac for us. It cost £2,500 per vehicle, radio frequencies were congested and drivers didn't like us drilling huge holes into their cabs," he said.
"In comparison using O2's GPRS network means we can build a business that can extend outside London."
The portability of the handhelds also means that cabbies can be more responsive by picking up job requests when they are not in their vehicle.
Xeta has also developed XPert, an in-house platform for the XDAs to integrate information such as fare journey requests, as well as Tom Tom GPS technology and a soon-to-be-deployed swipe card payment and receipt system.
"The system shows us who is available for a fare and if they are close to the customer," explained Kaley.
"It also provides audit trails so that corporate customers can monitor issues like extra charges incurred from waiting time."
Information from each handheld device is linked to the company's Cantech booking and dispatch engines and billing and management information systems so that it can automate accounting and wage payments.
Xeta will also save money by deploying new business applications through over-the-air-provisioning, rather than having to bring cabs in for an overhaul.
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