Interactive Taxis: Taking a Ride on the Web Side

By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2005-02-25 Print this article Print

Opinion: The future of mobile advertising might well be seen in a cab cruising near you, as Verizon's EvDO technology enables always-on online connectivity and real-time delivery of video and information.

Ive seen the future of mobile advertising. Its in the back of taxi cabs cruising the streets in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and, if fortune smiles upon Corey Gottlieb, soon to be New York. Gottlieb is CEO of a company called Interactive Taxi. It operates from an office currently stacked with EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) cards, circuit boards and chassis, in the Flatiron District of New York. He was preparing to respond to an RFP (request for proposal) from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission when I dropped in. Read more here about how EvDO technology works.
The city has mandated that the Big Apples 16,000 taxis be equipped with interactive, GPS (Global Positioning System)-based units. Deployment is expected sometime late this year, after the New York Taxi and Limousine Service reviews proposals.
The idea is to equip each cab with display units, designed to provide city and tourist information, taxi fares, rules, a GPS-based location system, and a credit card billing and reconciliation system that allows passengers to charge their fares. Interactive Taxi did just that in a pilot project with the city in 2001. New York was poised to deploy units throughout the city when the World Trade Center attack occurred. The plan went on hold. In the interim, Interactive Taxi took its technology to other cities. Today, 250 Interactive Taxis are cruising the streets of Boston. Chicago has 350 of them, and San Francisco plans to soon expand its fleet to more than 200. Oh, did I mention advertising? Thats not only what drives this business model, its the reason for its being. Gottlieb was handling advertising sales at Viacom five years ago when four friends, who came up with the idea for Interactive Taxi, approached the company with it in search of funding. Viacom did not bite, but Gottlieb did. He liked the idea so much that he joined the company and eventually moved to its helm. Interactive Taxi attracted venture capital funding, and the business was born. It all stemmed from the frustration of one of the friends who, it seems, had been stuck in a taxi in New Yorks legendary gridlock. Thinking there should be something better to do with the time than sit there, he and his buddies came up with the idea of providing interactive backseat entertainment (no, not the kind in HBOs "Taxicab Confessions"). Next Page: Creating an always-on connection.

Carol Ellison is editor of's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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