PDAs to track Olympic VIPs in Beijing

The EventTrack lets users send a message to transport organizers for pickup and drop-off, and also helps Chinese authorities keep track of guests.(From ZDNet Australia)
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor
Foreign dignitaries, guests of major sponsors, and Olympic officials alike will be given a modified PDA at this year's Beijing Olympics, which will allow organizers to track their movements and make it easier to arrange a cab.

The device will be handed out to VIPs as a means of assisting them in navigating and negotiating the streets of Beijing, which will have swelled to an estimated population of 20 million by the time the Olympic flame is lit.

In addition to providing directions and information about surrounding places of interest, the technology--called EventTrack--will also allow users to send a message to transport organizers for pickup and drop-off at a preselected destinations, chosen through a drop-down menu.

"We have (EventTrack) installed on a standard PDAs which will be distributed to the relevant guests on arrival; if required we'll be doing more languages such as Japanese or French," said Tim Herring, general manager of finance and strategy for SmartTrans, the Australian company that developed EventTrack in partnership with China Alarm, China's largest security monitoring provider.

"The Chinese came to us with two concerns--traffic and security. Obviously the device helps ease traffic problems, but security-wise it also allows authorities to keep track of guests," said Herring.

Apart from Olympic sponsors, other users expected to equip themselves with the devices as part of their Beijing sojourns include Macquarie Bank, ANZ, and the Australian Trade Commission's Business Club Australia.

"Our joint business plan extends substantially beyond the Olympics," said Alex Ing, chairman and CEO of China Alarm, at the EventTrack launch in Beijing.

"At the moment we're looking at taking the system to the Shanghai Expo in 2010, the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the London Games in 2012," SmartTrans executive Herring told ZDNet.com.au.

Marcus Browne of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

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