In my previous article about bus GPS positioning I have tried to estimate the cost of implementing a real-time public information (RTPI) system for a city. It is no surprise that many people are looking to improve people’s transit experience. One such people is Dan Pratchenko of Oregon. On his blog, he tried to estimate the cost of a pilot RTPI system. Pilot means just a dozen buses serving the university campus and surroundings.
Dan’s solution is similar to the one I have suggested and it is not surprising. Books are made out of books. RTPI systems are alike: an embedded computer (Arduino), a GPS logger, a GSM module and a data plan. In other words, a computer system that logs position and sends it via GSM to a remote server.
What I’ve found interesting is the way he constructed the pricing. The motherboard has a much lower cost ($20) than my estimate ($50), because it is a simpler, close to the need design. This is important, because the cost of a RTPI comes down to the cost of the hardware and that of the data plan.
I might have overlooked Arduino boards that come cheaper and still do the job. In the end, the transit agency that implements it should be more cost effective.