By using real-time and context-specific information (such as location, proximity to transport services, journey purpose, time of day, calendar entries etc.) a trusted travel assistant could plan each journey, and then co-pilot the traveller along his itinerary, alerting him/her whenever there is an interesting opportunity, a problem or a choice to be made. ITRAVEL's ubiquitous and pervasive services will be delivered to a customer at any time, and anywhere, and will help if needed to link seamlessly a number of journey legs made by different modes of transport.
The concept of ITRAVEL can best be described by using the following use case. Imagine Jane Smith, an international executive, who needs to travel from Brussels to London for a meeting:
- She updates her on-line diary with the meeting details, the other participants and when she'd like to arrive. She can do this via her mobile's touch screen, or simply dictate it into her phone;
- Jeeves, her personal 'virtual travel assistant' agent, confirms Jane's request and queries the ITRAVEL e-Marketplace with her details & preferences and her desired itinerary;
- Jeeves' query checks the e-Marketplace directory of trusted commercial and public travel services providers, and uses ITRAVEL services to chain together and purchase the different journey elements;
- Jeeves makes an electronic ticket reservation and payment where available for air, rail, and taxi stages, and buys an update service for on-trip traffic and public transport information relevant to Jane's journey;
- Jane receives and accepts the suggested itinerary, and approves payment for the whole journey;
- The morning of her trip Jane gets an update with a recommended departure time and expected time on all the links to her destination;
- While driving to the railway station she gets a warning of severe congestion on her route to the station, and a suggestion to 'park and ride' on the tram instead. She parks at the reserved space and boards the tram just before it leaves, her pre-purchased ticket already on her mobile phone. She arrives in good time at the Eurostar terminal, already checked in automatically, and there is even a cappuccino waiting to be collected at the coffee bar;
- While Jane is travelling, Jeeves is monitoring her progress on each journey leg, and sending updates to the ITRAVEL 'floating traveller data collection' service. The ITRAVEL data pool thus always reflects the latest knowledge of the status
The above mentioned scenario is still fiction. This is because travellers are missing that critical link to the many (and growing) sources of information accessible to desk-bound users with a good internet connection. It is exactly when on the move that a traveller lacks access to such services, just when his needs are greatest. The goal of ITRAVEL was therefore to develop, validate and demonstrate an innovative solution for:
- a personalised, context-aware on-line 'virtual travel assistant' service for travellers, both before and throughout their journey, based on:
- a service based on the integration of e-commerce and internet technologies to create the first 'e-marketplace' in the traffic and travel information services sector, through which
- through ITRAVEL, a wide-ranging community of information and service suppliers can expand their customer base while fulfilling travellers' needs.
The specific objectives of the ITRAVEL project were as follows:
- Describe a 'snapshot' of existing travel and transport services, technologies and stakeholders.
- Identify main traveller scenarios, use cases of the ITRAVEL service platform, and requirements.
- Describe main stakeholder operational and business processes and needed cooperation.
- Evaluate technological and architectural options for the ITRAVEL service platform to enable delivery, by a wide range of means such as nomadic devices, of context-aware services.
- Create organisational models and business tools for the ITRAVEL supplier community, and begin acquisition of first community members.
- Make a feasibility and risk assessment, and develop the roadmap for the next phase.
- Identify scenarios and strategies for ITRAVEL demonstrations in major cities.
ITRAVEL was an 18-month project. It was co-financed by the EC DG for Research Transport Directorate. The consortium had 18 partners. The ITRAVEL project was coordinated by ERTICO (European Road Transport Telematics Implementation Coordination Organisation) from Brussels, Belgium.
ITRAVEL dealt with the development of a virtual travel assistant. Currently available virtual assistants are reactive: they provide travel alternatives from which you can choose. ITRAVEL went a step further. Its virtual travel assistant is pro-active and context aware. It uses real time information and continuously monitors the trip progress. ITRAVEL knows your location, and monitors your progress.
If a chosen trip chain cannot continue the way it was planned, for example due to travel delays or accidents, it will (pro-actively) immediately offer travel alternatives and it will make all the necessary arrangements (such as purchasing e-tickets, change hotel bookings, etc.). These were the expected results of this innovative project.
ITRAVEL uses real-time and context-specific information. It is a trusted virtual travel assistant that plans each journey and guides the traveller along his itinerary, alerting him/her whenever there is a problem or an interesting travel alternative.
The ITRAVEL services will be delivered at any time and anywhere. It will help, when needed, to link seamlessly the journey legs made by different transport modes.
Desk-bound users with a good internet connection can easily access information from the many (and growing) data sources for planning their trip. This is more difficult to a traveller, just when his needs are greatest especially in the case of delays or cancellation of services. ITRAVEL therefore developed, validated and demonstrated an innovative solution.
- An efficient and integrated mobility system: service quality and reliability
- Innovating for the future (technology and behaviour): integrated urban mobility
The ITRAVEL system is currently under development.
See also the iTravel blog at: www.i-travelproject.com which contains general information on mobile handheld devices and useful applications.