Viva la Laptop – Paris Commuters enjoy a Wireless Paradise

One of the Biggest Brothers has finally arrived, and this time, he’s here to help us communicate — at least in Paris’ La Defense station, which services the transportation needs of 480,000 passengers a day.

The RATP, the agency that operates Paris’ transportation systems, has indeed gone wireless, giving both employees and commuters real-time information, such as train schedules, timetables, and directions directly to their laptops.

The project was put into place by Cisco Systems hardware, which is also working on several other large Wi-Fi projects around the world; and Appear Networks software, which, when combined, create a powerful, swift Wi-Fi that disseminates information quickly and efficiently.

The RATP’s mission was to make travel information more readily available, which in turn creates knowledge — keeping both passengers and their laptops much better-informed, thus making the inherent, harried nature of the travel process run much more smoothly.

Now, employees will have fast, ready access to information that will provide answers to busy commuters’ queries. They will automatically receive information via filtering, supplied by Appear, which zips information specifics to each employee, The system “recognizes” employees and filters individualized information to them.

Appear also has the software available to create voice- and video-transmission technology, but it’s not yet part of RATP. However, recent negotiations with Alcatel resulted in a WiMax pilot project, turning Paris into a definite “wireless city” leader.

Paris’ transportation chiefs sure put their stamp on an easier way to ride the rails: This newest Big Brother may be one of our biggest — and friendliest — yet.

By Catherine Van Herrin

Saturday, February 26, 2005