Abu Dhabi Government Powers Taxi Service with GIS and Mobile App
With a population of 1.5 million people, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, over the past 50 years has been transformed into a modern region with something for everyone, from high-end luxury buildings to wildlife and family-friendly adventures. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven Emirates as well as a major tourist attraction. According to the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, the number of international visitors in 2019 reached close to 11.3 million, an increase of 10.5 percent over the previous year.
In Abu Dhabi, there are 6,390 taxis operated by eight companies. Before the introduction of other mobile ridesharing services, the transportation regulator Integrated Transport Centre (ITC), realized the importance of using location intelligence to provide a smart and more efficient way for taxi users to locate transportation providers and request rides.
Integrated Transport Centre
Taxis are a vital mode of public transportation for residents and tourists in Abu Dhabi and other emirates like Dubai.
Integrated Transport Centre and its government partners used geographic information system technology to build a state-of-the-art app for users to request and pay for taxis.
As a result of enhanced location intelligence, a mobile app, and mapping technology integrated with an existing customer service system, location data for taxi bookings is more accurate, wait times have decreased, and customer service has improved.
With its high residential population and a number of tourists, public transportation is a critical need for daily life in Abu Dhabi. The most common form of public transit is provided by the 6,390 taxis managed by 8 taxi operators. Taxis provide reliable transportation for residents and tourists throughout Abu Dhabi and other neighboring emirates such as Dubai.
The taxi system is managed by the Department of Municipalities & Transport’s Integrated Transport Centre (ITC). Managing the volume of taxis on the road and the people waiting to catch their next ride quickly and efficiently proved to be a unique challenge for the ITC’s day-to-day operations and the business community in the region. Outdated systems required customers to call ITC centers to book a taxi, but customer service agents did not always have accurate location information, and drivers could not quickly locate customers based on the information provided by the call center staff.
Before private ridesharing companies expanded to the UAE, the ITC identified business needs to improve the way customers booked taxis. Initially, the ITC used open-source location data and mobile mapping apps, but those options had limited capabilities and features, plus the scalability of the mobile application was of concern.
Eventually, ITC built a mobile app with geographic information systems (GIS) technology that includes maps and real-time taxi Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) data, and integration with other taxi dispatch systems and call center services. The app provides a full-service option to passengers who need taxis with several features and functionalities that make it safer and easier to use with the addition of location data. Customers can:
- Book taxis directly sharing location information or chose specific pick-up and drop-off locations.
- Use advance-booking options.
- Choose from hybrid, street, and satellite imagery base maps.
- Use geofencing based on trips originating from Abu Dhabi
- Explore nearby available taxis on the map and track a requested taxi as it approaches.
- Understand fare structure based on distance.
- Search for tourist attractions and other points of interest on a map.
Working on top of both Android and Apple devices, the app has won a Best in Government award as a public app.
This screen shows the user’s intended booking location at the center of the map. It also shows the nearby available taxis around him/her so he can know that taxis are available nearby. He can also see the estimated fare at the top for the selected destination and selected taxi type.
The development of ITC’s taxi app supports the region’s tourism expansion and contributes to robust daily life for residents. Implementing GIS with location-based tools, the app has digitized taxi requests, making the process of booking a ride more efficient, pleasant, and safe for both passengers and taxi drivers. Ultimately the mapping technology features in the mobile app have provided accurate location information and decreased wait times.
The ITC announced that taxi operators in Abu Dhabi provided 15 million trips, carrying 28 million passengers during just the first six months of 2020. The power of location tools in a user-friendly app has over 300,000 downloads, and 16,000 average daily users, and is consistently rated favorably among customers.
This screen shows the information about the taxi user has booked, like the Driver’s Name, rating, estimated arrival time, and options to call him or WhatsApp him and an option to share the ride with his/her relative(s) or friend(s), so they can also live to track the taxi.
This screen shows the history of the bookings with details like booking date and time, payment method, actual source and destination of the trip, and an option to see the receipt and driver details along with rating the overall trip.