Patent application title: INTEGRATED SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR CAR POOLING USING SMART CARDS, GPS, GPRS, ACTIVE POSTER AND NEAR FIELD COMMUNICATION DEVICES
Sunny Ramaswamy Dewakar (Alexandria, VA, US)
Hemanth Kashyap Karri (Hyderabad, IN)
Kishor Dynandeo Narkhede (Hyderabad, IN)
Parveen Kumar Chaudhary (Delhi, IN)
CELLULAR EXPRESS, INC.
Class name: Data processing: financial, business practice, management, or cost/price determination automated electrical financial or business practice or management arrangement transportation facility access (e.g., fare, toll, parking)
Publication date: 2011-08-18
Patent application number: 20110202393
A method, integrated system and in-vehicle Active Poster for processing
mobile touch transactions including carpooling transactions. The
integration includes a near field contactless or swipe smart card or
other portable identification device which may be standalone, affixed to,
or part of a mobile or hand held portable wireless communication device,
a touch sensitive Active Poster also with swipe or near field contactless
communication capability and also incorporating or in communication with
GPS or other vehicle location services capability for the vehicle, a car
pool management or other service provider's system and application and a
host computer with networking capability.
1. A system for facilitating management and implementation of a car pool
management service used by a central agency administering said car pool
management service, wherein at least one of a plurality of rider users
share a car of one of a plurality of provider users resulting in a
commerce transaction in the form of points associated with a journey
comprises: a host computer; a wireless service provider's network; a
device reader in each participating vehicle of each provider user to
track boarding and alighting of rider users; automatic vehicle location
capability for each participating vehicle, including a vehicle mounted
unit in each participating vehicle, to track the distance travelled by
said rider user and monitor the location said vehicle; a plurality of
communication enabled devices each carried by one of said rider users
including said rider user, capable of storing device identification
information, which is capable of being received by said device readers
when in proximity with said device; an active poster located in each of
said participating vehicles, each active poster in communication with
said vehicle location unit in each respective vehicle, and each active
poster also in communication with said device reader which is also
located in said respective vehicle, and each active poster also in
communication with said host computer over said wireless provider's
network, for viewing various services offered and interacting on line,
including a user interface and means such as buttons or a touch screen by
which a user can input information into the active poster; a carpooling
service provider including at least capability enabling computer
generated maps used at a central agency and including communication with
said host computer, said host computer including or in communication with
a users database including said rider users and said provider users, and
used at least for monitoring vehicle locations, and associating said
device identification information with a user account, and associating
said vehicles with respective provider users' accounts, and tracking
activity including receiving device identification received by said
device readers; wherein the system uses said device reader and active
poster to identify the rider user by reading said device information when
said device is brought into proximity with said device reader, and said
active poster unit sending said device identification information to said
host computer, where said host computer is in communication with said
computer database where said device identification information is
associated with said user's account with said car pool management service
provider, wherein an indication of the start of said journey and location
of said vehicle at said start of said journey and information sufficient
to identify said vehicle as a vehicle of said provider user is also
transmitted to said host computer by said active poster, and wherein said
host computer identifies said rider user and said vehicle and said
corresponding provider user, from correspondences within said database,
and wherein upon the end of said journey said rider user again brings
said device in proximity to said device reader, and said reader
communicates said device identification information to said active
poster, and said active poster communicates with said host computer
including an indication of the end of said journey and the location of
said vehicle at said end of said journey; and wherein said host computer
creates a record of said journey, credits said provider user account with
said carpooling service provider with a value associated with said
journey and debits from the account of said rider user a value associated
with said journey.
2. The system of claim 1, where the device is a smart card enabled with near field communication capability, and said device reader is capable of receiving near field communications.
3. The system of claim 1, where the device is a swipe card, and said device reader is capable of reading information encoded onto said swipe card.
4. The system of claim 1, where the device is a mobile handset equipped with a near field enabled contactless SIM, and said device reader is capable of receiving near field communications.
5. The system of claim 1, where the value associated with said journey is based on the calculated mileage of said journey.
6. The system of claim 1, where in the vehicle location system uses at least one of GPS, GPRS or cell tower triangulation for tracking the location of said vehicle.
7. The system of claim 1, where additionally the Host Computer sends an SMS or other type message to a mobile communications unit of said rider user, requesting acknowledgement of said transaction or a returned passcode associated with said user's account with said car pool management service provider.
8. The system of claim 1, where additionally the Host Computer sends an acknowledgement request to said rider user, via said active poster unit, requesting acknowledgement of said transaction or a returned passcode associated with said user's account with said car pool management service provider.
9. The system of claim 1, where additionally the function of device reader is carried out using a device separated from said active poster unit, located in said vehicle, but in wired or wireless communication with said active poster unit.
10. The system of claim 1, where additionally said active poster user interface and input means are provided using a device separated from said active poster unit, located in said vehicle, but in wired or wireless communication with said active poster unit.
11. The system of claim 1, where the capabilities of claim 9 and claim 10 are combined into a single device separate from said active poster unit, but in wired or wireless communication with said active poster.
12. A method for a car pool management service, wherein at least one of a plurality of rider users share a car of one of a plurality of provider users resulting in a commerce transaction in the form of points associated with a journey including: placing a device reader in each participating vehicle of each provider user to track boarding and alighting of rider users; placing automatic vehicle location capability in each participating vehicle, including a vehicle mounted unit in each participating vehicle, to track the distance travelled by said rider user and monitor the location said vehicle; issuing a plurality of communication enabled devices each carried by one of said rider users including said rider user, each such device capable of storing device identification information, which is capable of being received by said device readers when in proximity with said device; placing an active poster in each of said participating vehicles, each active poster in communication with said vehicle location unit in each respective vehicle, and each active poster also in communication with said device reader which is also located in said respective vehicle, and each active poster also in communication a common host computer over a wireless provider's network, for viewing various services offered and interacting on line, and each active poster including a user interface and means such as buttons or a touch screen by which a user can input information into the active poster; said car pool management service provider using software capability including at least computer generated maps used at a central agency and including at least communication with said host computer, said host computer including or in communication with a users database including information corresponding to said rider users and said provider users, and used at least for monitoring vehicle locations, and associating said device identification information with a respective user account, and associating said vehicles with a respective provider user accounts, and tracking activity including receiving device identification received by said device readers; said device reader and active poster identify said rider user by reading said device information when said device is brought into proximity with said device reader, and said active poster unit sends said device identification information to said host computer, where said host computer is in communication with said computer database where said device identification information is associated with said user's account with said car pool management service provider, and an indication of the start of said journey and location of said vehicle at said start of said journey and information sufficient to identify said vehicle as a vehicle of said provider user in said database is also transmitted to said host computer by said active poster, and upon the end of said journey said rider user again brings said device in proximity to said device reader, and said reader communicates said device identification information to said active poster, and said active poster communicates with said host computer to generate and store records relating to the time and location of the end of said journey; and said host computer creates a record of said journey, credits said provider user account with said carpooling service provider with a value associated with said journey and debits from the account of said rider user a value associated with said journey.
13. The method of claim 12, where the device is a smart card enabled with near field communication capability, and said device reader is capable of receiving near field communications.
14. The method of claim 12, where the device is a swipe card, and said device reader is capable of reading information encoded onto said swipe card.
15. The method of claim 12, where the device is a mobile handset equipped with a near field enabled contactless SIM, and said device reader is capable of receiving near field communications.
16. The method of claim 12, where the value associated with said journey is based on the calculated mileage of said journey.
17. The method of claim 12, where in the vehicle location system uses at least one of GPS, GPRS or cell tower triangulation for tracking the location of said vehicle.
18. The method of claim 12, where additionally the Host Computer sends an SMS or other type message to a mobile communications unit of said rider user, requesting acknowledgement of said transaction or a passcode associated with said user' s account with said carpooling service provider.
19. The method of claim 12, where additionally the function of device reader is carried out using a device separated from said active poster unit, located in said vehicle, but in wired or wireless communication with said active poster unit.
20. The method of claim 12, where additionally said active poster user interface and input means are provided using a device separated from said active poster unit, located in said vehicle, but in wired or wireless communication with said active poster unit.
21. The method of claim 12, where the capabilities of claim 19 and claim 20 are combined into a single device separate from said active poster unit, but in wired or wireless communication with said active poster.
1. CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application is a Continuation in Part (CIP) of U.S. Non-Provisional Patent Application Ser.. No. 12/705,696, filed on Feb. 15, 2010, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety for all purposes.
2. FIELD OF INVENTION
 The Present invention relates to a method and integrated system for efficient management of car pooling using Smart Cards, GPS, GPRS, near field communication devices, and active poster technology. More particularly, disclosed is a method and integrated system of car pooling which provides a simple and practical solution which facilitates and encourages car owners to share their cars with other car owners, thereby resulting in fewer numbers of cars on the city roads.
3. DEFINITIONS, ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
 Active Poster: A `touch-n-display unit` that enables mobile subscribers with CL SIMs or other types of RFID units in their handsets or (in the case of standalone RFID units) carried separately, to conduct mobile transactions like prepaid recharge, bill payment, etc. In the present invention the Active Poster technology is present in the vehicle with an in-vehicle GPS/AVL unit.
 AP/PS Unit, or AP/GSM/AVL Unit: The unit or units which are present in the vehicle which combine the Active Poster technology with GPS/AVL capability.
 AVL. Automatic Vehicle Location which is based on Global Positioning System to track distance traveled and monitors the location of the Car.
 CL SIM Dual Chip Architecture: a `SIM Card` form factor with an external antenna attached to two unused SIM contacts that works with existing handsets.
 CL SIM/(U) SIM/R-UIM: one of the embodiments of the invention refers to: (a) SIM-2G/2.5 GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks, a SIM compatible with 2G or 2G and 2.5 G networks, which uses one or both of GPRS or EDGE networks; or (b) (U) SIM-3G WCDMA: A SIM which uses the CDMA network, and may be compatible with 3G or both 3 and 4G networks; or (c) R-UIM-CDMA 1x/1RTT & CDMA EV-DO, another type of CDMA-compatible SIM, used in phones compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks.
 Card Reader or Smart Card Reader: Device which reads the device ID of the Smart Card and transmits the device ID to the AP. The device ID is registered with the associated User's account in the Host Computer.
 Central Agency: Central office, where the administration of the PCCS is located. Typically the Host Computer would be located at the Central Agency.
 Giver: A person who owns a car and uses his or her car to give a ride to a Seeker.
 Seeker: A person who shares the journey with the owner.
 GPS: Global positioning system, the well-known system to allow mobile devices to determine their location.
 GPS or GPS/AVL unit: In-vehicle device which incorporates GPS and AVL technology, as known in the art.
 GPRS: General Packet Radio Service; Internet through SIM card--allows mobile devices to access the Internet
 Host Computer: The computer system containing the PCCS-specific logic which contains or can access the User accounts and account values ("points" as described in Section 5) and other logic to enable the carpooling functions described.
 PCCS: Pan City Carpool System described in this Application and introduced in Section 4.
 Seeker: A person who shares the journey with the Giver using the car pooling system described in this Application.
 Smart Card: CL SIM, RFID wafer or standard RFID or NFC enabled card, which contains a device ID which is associated with the User's account in the Host Computer.
 User: Giver or Seeker.
 Vehicle Mounted Unit: The AVL device, uses GPS to track distance traveled and monitors the location of the vehicle. Alternatively the AVL unit could use other available technologies to ascertain location such as cell tower triangulation.
 Acronym Meaning
 AP Active Poster
 CL SIM Contactless SIM
 MNO Mobile Network Operator
 MRTS Mass Rapid Transit System
 NFC Near Field Communication
 RF Radio Frequency
 RFID Radio Frequency Identification Device
 PCB Printed Circuit Board
4. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Traffic congestion is among the top problems of big cities, not just in India but in most developed/developing countries. The problem is especially acute in cities which did not plan a mass rapid transit system (MRTS) during early stages of growth, but later have experienced unexpectedly high organic growth, by which time adequate space is not available to widen roads or set up MRTS solutions.
 Traffic congestion has several impacts, the main ones being:  Loss of man hours in traffic snarls;  Loss of fuel, burnt in idling and crawling vehicles; and  Vehicular pollution.
 This invention proposes a Pan-City Carpool System (PCCS) to reduce traffic congestion and vehicular pollution. In addition, the PCCS supplements the public transport system and provides significant diversification benefit against any disruption in public transport due to a terrorist attack or labor unrest.
 The PCCS system described here can be implemented in any large urban area of the world where cars are used as a major mode of transport.
Benefits of the Invention.
 The reduction in the number of cars plying the roads during peak hours, would decongest roads, increase traffic speed, and reduce fuel consumption. Another effect will be to reduce vehicular air pollution due to the combined effect of reduced number of vehicles and increased traffic speed. The road space saved from cars can be utilized to deploy additional buses, thereby strengthening the MRTS.
 Additionally, the invention saves wear and tear on vehicles and also reduces driving stress for motorists. The invention also offers social/economical networking opportunities to participants. The pressure on the city government to widen roads, construct more parking lots, and increase costly MRTS capacity would also decrease. The Federal government also benefits in terms of reduced oil subsidies (if applicable) and reduced oil imports.
Existing Method--2 to 5 Member `Micro` Carpools.
 Present carpools (called `micro` carpools to highlight the contrast with carpools using the invention as disclosed by and large operate in the following manner:
 Car owners living in same/nearby/along-the-way localities working in same/nearby/along-the-way offices, having same timings of going to work and coming back, make an arrangement among themselves wherein they bring their cars on different week days by rotation. For example A, B, C, D, and E--five car owners living in Virginia, all working in `x` place in 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. jobs make an arrangement among themselves as follows:  A plies his car on Monday and gives a ride to B, C, D and E while going to work and also while coming back home.  B, C, D and E similarly ply their cars, each on different day of the week and give ride to other members also on those days.  The turn of each member is pre-fixed and known to other members.
 The place and time of gathering in the morning as well as in the evening is also predetermined. Each member benefits as he/she plies his/her car for just one day in a week but receives car transport for all five days.
 A partner not possessing a car, shares fuel expenses with other partners. Similarly, a casual partner, who shares same travel needs once in a while, also shares fuel expenses of other partners proportionate to the travel facility availed.
Why the Existing `Micro` Carpools Have Had Only Limited Success.
 The present system of "microcarpools" has several drawbacks/shortcomings due to which car pooling has remain restricted in its spread, in spite of its significant benefits. As described later in this invention, the Pan-City Carpool System (PCCS) removes the shortcomings of a micropooling by removing its basic requirement of `consistent partners` and thus makes a large-scale adoption of carpooling feasible for average car-owners.
 The drawbacks/shortcomings of the existing method of micro carpools are as follows:
 (i) Safety issue: Sharing a car with a stranger with unverified credentials can pose a risk to the life and property of a commuter. Therefore, unless the partners know each other well, they are hesitant to join a carpool.
 (ii) It is difficult to find reliable partners with consistently matching travel needs: The present system requires someone interested in setting up a micro car-pool to find about 3 to 4 car-pool partners who:
 a) are reliable in all respects;
 b) have consistent and matching travel needs;
 c) live in same/nearby/along-the-way localities;
 d) have their work destination in same/nearby/along-the-way localities on a consistent basis; and
 e) have timings of going to work as well as of coming back from work, which match with each other on a consistent basis.
 The difficulty in finding such suitable partners is considerable and insurmountable for most people, especially because urban residents have limited social interactions outside of work situations. Only car owners who work in big organizations may be able to find suitable partners living in their locality and working in their organization, with some help from their HR/CSR departments.
 There are websites which have been established during the last 3 to 4 years which are trying to set up carpools, but success of these websites has been limited. The carpool websites may never be able to adequately realize the potential of ridesharing, because they are promoting a fundamentally restrictive concept--micro carpools.
 (iii) Unreasonable consistency demand: The micro carpool expects its members to have a rigid and repetitive travel plan every day, because both in morning and evening, the pool car would be available only at a predetermined place and time. If any member has a change in his/her schedule on a particular day because of any official/social/personal commitment, he/she has to arrange for an alternate mode of transport. The member who on a particular day has his/her turn to ply the car feels particularly compelled to not change his travel schedule on that day, as any such change will put other members to a lot of inconvenience.
 (iv) No help for `during-the-day` and different-from-regular travel destinations: A carpool partner may reasonably have travel needs during day time for which his `work-home` carpool offers no assistance. Similarly, a carpool partner who has a different-from-regular travel destination on some days gets no help from his rigid carpool. Little wonder that people who have changing destinations or day-time travel needs (such as marketing/audit/inspection personnel) do not participate in a carpool.
 (v) Feeling shortchanged: Members often end up feeling that they have given more rides than they have availed from other members.
The Benefits of the Present Invention.
 The proposed PCCS suffers from none of the above limitations/drawbacks/shortcomings of the `micro` carpool. The PCCS is based on a "many-to-many" barter and dynamic matching concept, wherein a member (playing the role of a Seeker) can take a ride from any other member (who is playing the role of a Giver) and return the ride to any member, not necessarily to the same member from whom the ride was availed. This flexible arrangement places MCCS within an entirely different paradigm from a Micro Carpool, and significantly increases the chance of making successful ride-sharing matches.
 Other the above mentioned important benefits of the present invention are as follows:
 Functionality Enabled. The present invention enables the following functionality.
 1. The ability to identify and inform the nearest potential Giver of vehicle requests from Seekers based on the distance from the Seeker;
 2. The ability to track the boarding and alighting of Seekers through the swipe of a card, and bill them using the distance traveled using GPS with a low margin of error;
 3. The creation of permanent routes and assigning Seekers who desire to use the cars of Givers daily, or, add Seeker passengers based upon calls received on an individual basis; and
 4. The ability to track carpooling usage and forward the required information for billing of car pool Users using a debit to the User's prepaid account as a payment method.
 A typical city resident commuting to work in his car, usually drives about 60-100 kilometer per day, or 2000 kilometers in a month. By participating in PCCS, he can reasonably save at least 50% of his driving, or 1000 kilometers in a month. Intangible benefits to Users (reduced driving stress, social networking opportunities, etc.) and gains to society in terms of reduced pollution, travel time are also present.
5. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention provides a simple and practicable method to facilitate and encourage car owners to share their cars with other car owners, thereby resulting in fewer numbers of cars plying city roads. As commonly experienced by any road user, private cars are causing traffic congestion by inefficiently using the limited road space--the cars are typically carrying only one to two commuters against a capacity of 5 or more (a low 20 to 40% capacity utilization). The present invention however treats the available spare capacity in cars as an opportunity to provide a transport solution--whereby 3-4 motorists, instead of traveling in separate cars, accommodate themselves in one car, especially during peak hours. In other words, the invention aims to increase the capacity utilization (also called load factor) of cars to 60-80% and in the process take at least 50% cars off the road. The present invention integrates various technologies thereby incorporating a new methodology for car pooling using GPS, GPRS, Active Poster technology, smart card technology, a software application and near field communication devices, which working together allow the Car Pool Administration team to:  Locate cars at any given time;  Track the car pool member (Seeker) entry and exit time and distance traveled;  Assign the nearest car to any car pool member (Seeker) on request  Inform the car owners (Givers) about their daily usage statistics  Bill the car pool members (Users) based on their usage as Givers and Seekers once monthly  Provide Internet access to registered individual customers/ passengers (Users) on their own billing and usage statistics.
6. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 illustrates a the system architecture, generic relationships and roles in connection with the invention.
 FIG. 2 illustrates schematically an overview of the management of the PCCS by the Central Agency.
 FIGS. 3-14 illustrate the options of a User for accessing the Internet interface for the Active Poster enabled functionality PCCS.
 FIG. 3 illustrates the front page for the PCCS User interface.
 FIG. 4 illustrates the User Management page for the PCCS User interface.
 FIG. 5 illustrates the Pool Grouping according to one embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 6 illustrates View Profile and Vehicle Tracking according to one embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 7 illustrates the Main Page for the carpooling functionality enabled in PCCS.
 FIG. 8 illustrates the Car Pooling page enabled in PCCS according to one embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 9 illustrates the Accessories page.
 FIG. 10 illustrates the Mall Services page in PCCS according to one embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 11 illustrates the Multimedia page in PCCS according to one embodiment of the invention
 FIG. 12 illustrates the Value Added Services page in PCCS according to one embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 13 illustrates the Brightness page in PCCS according to one embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 14 illustrates the Panic page in PCCS according to one embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 15-18 illustrate process flow diagrams for the functioning of illustrative use cases for Carpooling and other Active-Poster-enabled options for the User.
7. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention deals with a method for, and the integration and management of, a pan-city car pool system (PCCS) in any urban area or city for tracking the boarding and alighting of passengers, the monitoring of cars, the assigning of trips, and for billing the end customer/commuter using GPS, GPRS, RFID, Smart Cards, Active Posters, etc
 The integration, method and implementation of the present invention of a PCCS for management, vehicle tracking and member billing service incorporate the following components:
I. Description of the Components.
1. AVL/GPS/AP Unit.
 A GPS based Online Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) device in each vehicle called the Vehicle Mounted Unit (VMU) to track distance travelled and monitor the location of the vehicle. This is a standard vehicle mounted GPS based AVL unit available in the commercial market. It is however further customized per the specifications for and requirements of the PCCS. The GPS/AVL unit is specifically customized to incorporate Active Poster technology. The Active Poster technology is further customized to allow the tracking and management or carpool rides involving Users (Givers and Seekers) in connection with the PCCS.
 The AVL/GPS/AP (also known as the VMU) is installed in a central location within the passenger compartment of the car so that Users can easily swipe their Smart Cards. The driver can also help the back passengers swipe the card.
 Alternatively, a remote pad (wireless pad) can be enabled as described below.
2. Smart Card and Smart Card Reader.
 a. Smart Cards.
 State of art smart card technology is used in the Smart Cards (distributed to the Users) which provide secure and trusted transactions. These Smart Cards can be used in the mobile handsets with two contactless system arrangements. The first is with Near Field Communication enabled mobile handsets and secondly with Contactless SIM (Dual-architecture) for existing handsets without NFC. Alternatively, Smart Cards may be incorporated into standalone RFID-enabled wafers or NFC enabled smart cards which are known in the art.
b. Smart Card Reader.
 A proximity enabled Contactless Smart Card Reader to track boarding and alighting of Users. The invention uses front-end certified contactless card readers, which are commercially available and typically adapted for different operating environments like retail, self service, transportation, leisure and corporate campuses/business parks. These readers are capable of interfacing with various application specific equipments like POS terminals, vending machines, copiers, pay phones, parking meters, electronically controlled gates/turnstiles, etc. The Smart Card Reader in this invention, in one embodiment, refers to NFC (near field communication) technology being used in a "hand held remote" device at which Users tap (bring into close proximity) their access Smart Card's. The hand held remote device is merely a remote wireless (or even wired) pad in the vehicle which is in communication with the in-vehicle AP/GPS VMU. Alternatively, Users can "swipe" their Smart Cards where the reader is enabled with a swipe device. The connection between the smart card and the smart card reader is NFC or via a swipe depending on the method enabled. The connection between the Smart Card Reader and the GPS/AP may be hardwired, or using a wireless method such as NFC or other wireless method as is known in the art.
 In one embodiment of the invention, an RF Transmitter which is coupled via NFC or RF to the AVL/GPS/AP unit, which is part of a wireless User input and display pad (wirelsss pad), for use inside the vehicle, and this is used to communicate with the RF Receiver that which part of the AVL/GPS/AP car pooling unit. This enables a convenient user interface to perform operations from within the vehicle without all passengers needing to reach over to the dashboard or other single location within the vehicle passenger compartment.
 The Smart Card Reader and wireless pad user interface functions can be combined into a single device as described above, but that need not be configured this way. Both the Smart Card Reader function as well as the user interface could be incorporated directly onto the GPS/AP unit, or one or both functions can be moved to a remote-but-still-in-vehicle wireless pad or Smart Card Reader unit as described above. Interface between the Smart Card and the Smart Card Reader is via an NFC communication session between the Smart Card and the Smart Card Reader, or, alternatively, it can be done via a card swipe, if the Smart Card Reader is equipped with a card swipe reader. References to "tapping" a Smart Card indicate bringing the card into sufficiently close proximity with the NFC receiving device.
3. AP Technology Incorporated into the AVL/GPS Unit.
 The AVL/GPS unit will either incorporate or have alongside or otherwise be in communication with Active Poster (AP) technology for viewing various services offered to the registered PCCS Users and interacting online The AP is a `touch-n-display unit`, which includes a terminal device (such as a wireless pad as described above) where users with Smart Cards can tap on, swipe, (or otherwise bring their Smart Cards into close proximity with) the AP-technology enabled device to carry out a transaction for a telecom or non-telecom application they have registered for and activated by their MNO, carpooling service provider or other service provider, as enabled by the Host Computer.
 The Smart Card may be in the Users' mobile handset, or it may be a standalone RFID device consisting of a wafer or smart card enabled with an RFID device.
 The Active Poster previously described in the '696 Application is made up of a thin, lightweight touch enabled 6''/8''/9.7''/10'' sized e-Paper, display or slim touch screen LCD display, printed RFID antenna and short range radio module encapsulated in a PET polymer substrate, to resemble a single poster.
 The Active Poster in the embodiments described as part of the present invention, is mounted in the car, either as part of or alongside or in communication with the AVL/GPS unit, is primarily a "Navigation Device/GPS" with a special software application residing on it, making the device function like an Active Poster enabling mobile commerce or merchandise transactions. The AP uses GPRS connectivity (or other suitable session, communication or networking connectivity as known in the art) to connect bilaterally to the Central Agency servers (Host Computer) as well as 3rd party payment gateways.
 In particular, the AP is able to request a confirmation from the User, such confirmation to be entered via the Users' mobile handset or other mobile device, and communicated either by NFC to the AP or via telecommunications directly back to the Host Computer (for example via SMS), in order to prompt for an additional security layer in the form of a pass code to be entered by the User into the User's handset.
 The confirmation request may be relayed by the Host Computer to the AP (for example via GPRS) and then by the AP to the handset via NFC, or it may be relayed by the Host Computer to the mobile Handset via for example GSM or CDMA standard telecom signaling or GPRS data session, or CDMA telecom signaling as applicable. The confirmation response is entered by the User into the User's mobile handset, and may be relayed by the mobile handset to the AP via NFC, and by the AP to the Host Computer via GPRS, or it may be relayed by the mobile handset to the Host Computer via above described methods. Communications from the Host compute to the mobile handset may be in fact performed as known in the art via the User's MNO infrastructure. The Host Computer is networked with such infrastructure.
4. Central Agency.
 Another component of the present invention is a set of Central Agency functions. These include software and maps at the control room servers for monitoring the vehicle locations, creating member (User) cards, tracking the swipes of the cards and forwarding the card usage by car pool members to the billing system.
 PCCS uses application software which has been developed in order to perform the functions of the present invention. The software applications have been created using XML, Java and Java Servelet, for the control room software.
 The applications have the following features that meet the requirements of PCCS:
 a. A fleet management panel to enter vehicle data, documentation data and other normal use cases.
 b. A tracking panel, which is used to track vehicles, creates a trip for a vehicle, closes a trip for a vehicle and in general tracks vehicle schedule adherence. A link from this panel opens the vehicle tracking view, which is both text based and map based. One can see the vehicle move on the map. A number of reports can be generated using the application as described below:  Daily vehicle movement reports in terms of the road, district, and place at periodic intervals;  The tracking interval can be set between 30 seconds to 1 min;  Trip reports;  Vehicle Stoppage exception reports; and  Vehicle over-speed exception reports
 c. A GIS search tool, which allows the central agency or control room to determine the nearest tracked vehicle to a known location.
 d. A swipe tracking tool to get the passenger entry and exit points thereby calculating the distance.
 e. Map viewer tools, which allow you to see a vehicle position on a map.
 Each tracker/dispatcher will have a phone connection. This is the nerve center of the entire system from an operations point of view.
 The Central Agency or the control room may have a Virtual Private Network connection to the hosted server (Host Computer).
 The primary purpose of this software and hardware combination is to make the car pool paperless and efficient by making use of cars and reducing the number of vehicles on the roads. A control room/call center is set up to monitor this and take requests from the commuters. The IT architecture of control room requires at least one external static IP available for the Proxy Server so that all the VMUs communicate with this static IP.
II. Best Mode of Working the Invention.
 The method, integration, management and effective execution of procedure of the invention on PCCS car pooling is given below.
 1. Overview of User participation. The present invention harnesses the power of people for their collective as well as individual benefit. At the present technology levels, it works as follows in the case of a typical city ("PanCity"):  a) All car owners of PanCity desirous of availing a carpool are enrolled as members in a PCCS, subject to verification of their credentials. The assistance of employers/RWAs/police authorities/documentary evidence/attestation by referees is employed to establish credentials.  b) All the verified Users may be issued Smart Card based photo IDs, which also works as a credit/debit card to record mileage points (described later).  c) Cars of all the Givers are fitted with a `contact less` Card Reader and AP/GPS unit, which can (i) read the Smart Card of a User, (ii) sense location of the car and (iii) transmit this data digitally (with the aid GPRS or of cell phone/trunk radio service providers) to a Central Agency.  d) `A`, a member of the PCCS may give ride (as a "Giver") to any of the "Seeker" member(s) of PCCS who have a common/along-the-way travel destination. By giving rides, `A` as Giver earns mileage points at the rate of, say one point per km. Thus for giving 25 kilometer ride to two Seekers, `A` earns 50 mileage points. `A` can thus accrue mileage points by giving rides to Seekers. In return, `A` can redeem the points earned by availing rides as a Seeker from any of the Giver cars on the days of his/her choice.  e) The points accrued to `A` can be also used by a family member who holds an `Add-on` User membership Smart Card. This way, `A` may have only one car in the family, but other family member(s) can also enjoy car rides in any of the PCCS member cars.  f) The entire arrangement is voluntary and `A` is free to not give/avail rides on days he/she so wishes.  g) A Central Agency in communication with the Host Computer registers and matches members' (Users') travel plans and sets up various Users with one another through phone/SMS/internet, on a dynamic basis with the help of computer software. Later on, when the Users know each other well, many may be able to find travel partners without Central Agency help.  h) The Central Agency also keeps track of mileage points earned and used by all Users. All PCCS rides are fully logged for enhancing security and for keeping track of mileage points earned/used, as described below:  When Seeker `A` takes a ride in the car of a Giver `13`, she shows her membership card (via NFC or swipe, depending on the particular system being deployed) to the Smart Card Reader installed in the car of Giver `B`. The machine reads the Id. No. of A, the time of start of journey and the location of start of journey (the location is sensed by the machine with the aid of location based services known in the art, for example location by cell-phone tower triangulation, GPS, Trunk Radio service provider or other method). The machine then transmits all three pieces of information and the Id. No. of `B` to the Central agency digitally, from the AVL/GPS/AP unit, through cell phone/trunk radio or any other available technology. The machine gives a beep sound (or any other suitable indication) to indicate successful completion of this transaction. This ensures the genuineness of both `A` and `B` and logs the journey for safety and accounting purposes.  On arrival at her destination, `A` again shows her card to the Card Reader, and the Card Reader transmits a message to the AVL/GPS/AP unit and then in turn to the Central agency to mark location and time of end of journey. The Central Agency's computer thus has complete record of the journey, for enhanced safety and security of members and for computing mileage points. Based on kilometers traveled, the Central Agency's computer (Host Computer) credits `B` and debits `A` for the PCCS ride.  At the end of every month, all the members are sent an electronic/paper statement giving a summary of points earned, points used, and balance points available, relative to their participation in PCCS.
III. Integration of Active Poster in the Method of PCCS Car Pooling.
 The Active Poster technology is a key component of the present invention.
 In the AP carpool embodiment, a mobile commerce transaction can be undertaken in a vehicle for a purchased number of miles, using stored value credits as is known in the art for wireless prepaid systems. The AP is replaced with a unit including similar functions and different appearances and is either incorporated within or works alongside and coupled with an AVL/GPS unit in the vehicle. This is a "thick AP" embodiment, in the sense that the AP hardware technology, and not the User's mobile handset, communicates the carpool transaction to the Host Computer. For a Smart Card, the PCCS may utilize either a NFC enabled wafer or a CL SIM enabled handset, or a Smart Card with NFC capability similar to that of a NFC enabled wafer. Alternatively, the Smart Card may be in communication with the Smart Card Reader via a card swipe unit built into the Smart Card Reader.
 Selection of the transaction is optionally via a wireless pad which is separate from the AP (GPS) unit, the latter being hard-mounted to the vehicle. The wireless pad however can simply be thought of as an extension to the AP, which can be more easily operated from the back seat of the vehicle. The AP gives the users high flexibility of vehicle tracking, online shopping, E-recharge etc. using a device located within the car.
 The invention includes use of in-vehicle GPS hardware to perform vehicle location, Also, it includes suitable telecommunications capability for communications between the AP/GPS unit and the Central Agency/Host Computer, for example GSM, GPRS, or CDMA.
 The invention may also include the use of, (i) Smart Card authentication via prompted pin entry (or yes/no acknowledgement for security) and (ii) display on the GPS/AP unit screen of a picture of the Seeker, both (i) and (ii) triggered by tapping the smart card onto the NFC-enabled GPS/AP unit, or on the NFC-enabled wireless pad, or, via swiping the Smart Card on a card swipe reader affixed to the wireless pad or the GPS/AP unit. The foregoing are enabled in order to provide security for car owners.
 When the AP device is turned on; on successful establishment of GPRS connection, the main screen is displayed. The following features are accessible from the main screen:  1. Carpooling  2. Services  3. Accessories  4. Multimedia  5. Value Added Services (VAS)  6. Settings  7. Navigation  8. Panic
 1. Carpooling. When the user clicks on the car pooling icon in the main page, he is redirected to the Carpooling form where he would be able to see six more options:  i) Start/End journey. The Giver chooses forward or reverse journey and clicks on the submit button. The page is redirected to a "Tap Form". The User taps his smart card on the RF pad which is also the Smart Card Reader. On successful authentication, the page is redirected to the authentication form where the User has to enter his 4 digit password which is linked to his Smart Card on the Host Computer. Dual authentication is provided to overcome the security threat for lost cards. On successful authentication and authorization, the carpooling is started.  The GPS locations are continuously sent to the Host Computer database and thus the tracking of the vehicle and distance calculation is initialized.  The distance between 2 pairs of latitude and longitude coordinates is calculated in the backend component of the Host Computer (using a JAVA program), and stored in the database component of the Host Computer.  When the Giver/Seeker swipes (or taps) his or her Smart Card to authenticate, the user identification number (UID) of the Smart Card, IMEI number of the GPS/AP device and latitude and longitude of the current location are sent to the Host Computer from the GPS/AP unit via GPRS and stored in the database for calculating the distance travelled.  When a Seeker reaches the destination, he is expected to swipe (or tap, as enabled) the Smart Card to end the journey. Once he swipes (or taps) the Smart Card, the current location, Smart Card UID, and the device IMEI are stored in the data base. Once the journey is ended, distance travelled is calculated and so are the points consumed. These points are deducted from the Seeker's account and are added to the Giver's account.  An SMS bearing the information, distance travelled, points deducted and balance points, is sent to the Seeker.
 ii) Route info. Route info contains the following information about Ad Hoc Journey routes and Fixed Journey routes:  a) Start location  b) End location  c) Start landmark  d) End land mark
 This is the route that the Giver has to follow in order to pick up all of the Seekers who have been assigned to the defined route.
 iii). My Fixed Group. Contains the following user details:  a) Name  b) Contact number  c) Start location  d) End location
 It also contains a radio button for selection of forward and reverse journey user details. The user details of forward and reverse journey are displayed based on the choice.
 iv). Skip Carpool. It facilitates Giver/Seeker to skip carpooling. Giver/Seeker can choose the duration during which he would not be available for carpooling. A calendar object is provided to choose the dates between which the Giver/Seeker would like to skip carpooling,
 v). Connect to Maps. On clicking this picture box, a map is displayed on the screen along with the route which the Giver has to follow.
 vi). Plan Ad Hoc Journey. In Plan Ad Hoc Journey, Giver can plan an Ad Hoc Journey .This page provides for entry of From Location and Landmark, To Location and Landmark and Date of Journey.
 2. Services.
 Services are different services offered to the Givers/Seekers which they can avail while commuting.
 i) Dinning Out: gives a list of restaurants located in the city;
 ii) Shopping: gives a list of shopping malls in the city;
 iii) E-Mall;
 iv) Mall Services: when user clicks on the Mall services icon, a small description regarding the outlet is displayed. On clicking on the Continue button on right bottom of the page, a Product page with thumbnails of the products along with their prices are displayed on the screen.
 v) News Updates:
 vi) E-Payment: Standard m-commerce payment transaction, for example recharge prepaid account, pay postpaid or utility account.
 vii) Stock Market: Stock market information.
 viii) FastFood: Triggers an application allowing food purchase from nearby restaurants.
 Once the products to be purchased are finalized, Giver/Seeker clicks on the submit button which redirects to a page where a summary of products selected is displayed, along with the total amount to be paid.
 On User confirmation, a text box to enter the address of delivery is displayed. Giver/Seeker enters the address and clicks on the submit button which would redirect to a "Confirm Form" where the User has to tap his smart card to confirm the purchase. On successful authentication, a web payment gateway is called and displayed on the screen. Giver/Seeker is expected to enter credit card details to complete the transaction. On successful completion, the transaction will be processed and transaction status will be shown to the User in the Confirm Form.
 3. Accessories. There are seven kinds of accessories provided:  I. Calculator  II. Alarm  III. Phone Book  IV. World Time  V. Calendar  VI. Notepad  VII. Currency Converter
 4. Multimedia. The present invention has seven icons in a multimedia feature on the Active Poster, which are as follows:  i) Movies: When user clicks on Movies icon, it will display list of all movies present on the device. User can play movies by double clicking on the name of the movie. When giver/seeker clicks on the Movies icon, mediaplayer.exe is called and the playlist of the movies is passed as an argument to it.  ii) Music: When user clicks on Music icon, it will display list of all songs. The User can play songs by double clicking on the name of the song. The same media player and process is used to play music files.  iii) Games: When user clicks on the Games icon, it will take the User to a games page. He/she can select available games and play the games. Whenever a game icon is clicked, the respective EXE file is called using the Process class; similar to media player execution.  iv) My Pictures: When user clicks on the My Pictures icon, it will display the available pictures as thumbnails. Giver/Seeker can choose a desired image to enlarge the same; in the new enlarged screen, they can either click on the slide show button to see a slide show or use the front/back button to manually change an image. To close the enlarged view and get back to the thumbnails, Giver/Seeker would click on the close button.
 5. Value Added Services (VAS). Giver/Seeker can recharge their mobile device prepaid stored value account or download a new ring back tone or ring tone from this menu. On clicking the VAS icon, there are two options shown on the screen:  i) Ring Tones: In this section of the application, Giver/Seeker uses the RF pad to do the transactions or browse through the options. Giver/Seeker uses the arrow buttons on the RF pad to browse through the options and presses on confirm button on the RF pad to confirm the choice. On choosing Ring Tones, thumbnails of available ring tones are displayed. On making an appropriate choice using the RF pad, the "code" of the selected ring tone is sent to the Host Computer. An SMS message is triggered which is sent to the appropriate Giver/Seeker to confirm the action. As described above, the Host Computer may communicate to the MNO and the MNO infrastructure shall initiate this message.  ii) Recharge/Bill Payment (mChek): Giver/Seeker would enter mobile number, amount and click on submit button to process the recharge/bill payment. An SMS is triggered which is sent to the appropriate Giver/Seeker to confirm the action. A recharge or bill payment to the User's Prepaid or Post Paid wireless account occurs.
 6. Settings. The following settings are available for the Giver to configure:  i) Brightness: on clicking the brightness icon, a pop up appears on the screen; giver can reduce or increase the brightness using the "-" and "+" buttons respectively.  ii) Volume Control. on clicking the brightness icon, a pop up appears on the screen; giver can reduce or increase the volume using the "-" and "+" buttons respectively.  iii) Disable key click sounds. User can enable/disable the key click sounds using this option.
 7. Navigation. A map windows pops up on the screen using which Giver/Seeker can search and navigate to any desired location, using GPS technology as is known in the art. When Giver/Seeker clicks on the Navigation icon, map EXE is called using the process class.
 8. Panic. When User clicks on the Panic icon, it will open the panic page.  There are several options on the Panic page. User can click on an appropriate option to raise an alert as follows:  Emergency Alert to MCCS Central Agency  Car Breakdown  Fire  Police  Ambulance
 Once the User clicks on an option, a distress signal is sent to the backend component of the Host Computer which would trigger an SMS message to the Central Agency pool manager and concerned authorities. A log is registered in the backend component of the Host Computer and a confirmation SMS is sent to appropriate Giver/Seeker.
 The present invention with all its embodiments and methodology using software applications helps the Central Agency or the control room in the administration and management of PCCS by efficiently locating cars at any given time, tracking the car pool member entry and exit time and distance traveled, assigning the nearest car to any car pool member on request, informing the car owners about the daily usage statistics, billing the car pool members based on the usage once monthly, providing an Internet view to registered individual customers/passengers in this transit system on their own billing and usage statistics.
Patent applications in class Transportation facility access (e.g., fare, toll, parking)
Patent applications in all subclasses Transportation facility access (e.g., fare, toll, parking)