One of the challenges to coordinating operations between human service transportation providers and MSO/VSO transportation providers is the lack of easy mechanisms for being able to send trip request or vehicle availability information between providers. Aside from phone calls and faxes, there is no straightforward and secure means to communicate between systems unless perhaps the providers are using the same scheduling & dispatch software.
Building a lingua franca for exchanging data veterans’ transportation needs would go a long way towards lowering the barrier to coordination. Aside from the technical details of file formats and specifying how the machine-to-machine communication would work, I think on the human side the nitty-gritty of this would involve attending to the details finding common terminology for what we do and achieving a deep understanding of one another’s operations.
This has largely been accomplished in the fixed-route world with such services as Google Transit and Bing Transit, which both use the General Transit Feed Specification to describe bus routes. I would love to see an equivalent set of tools developed in the demand-response transportation world, something that providers and software vendors can coalesce around.
Coordinating operations can be challenging in general because it involves so many moving parts. Getting this basic communication piece in place would better position us to tackle those other barriers.
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