WO2009087489A1 - Networking system - Google Patents

Networking system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2009087489A1
WO2009087489A1 PCT/IB2008/051265 IB2008051265W WO2009087489A1 WO 2009087489 A1 WO2009087489 A1 WO 2009087489A1 IB 2008051265 W IB2008051265 W IB 2008051265W WO 2009087489 A1 WO2009087489 A1 WO 2009087489A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
service
user
adapted
networking system
server
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2008/051265
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Jean-Marie Michaud
Original Assignee
Jean-Marie Michaud
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Jean-Marie Michaud filed Critical Jean-Marie Michaud
Priority to PCT/IB2008/051265 priority Critical patent/WO2009087489A1/en
Publication of WO2009087489A1 publication Critical patent/WO2009087489A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/02Services making use of location information
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/18Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which the network application is adapted for the location of the user terminal
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/02Services making use of location information
    • H04W4/023Services making use of location information using mutual or relative location information between multiple location based services [LBS] targets or of distance thresholds
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/12Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications adapted for proprietary or special purpose networking environments, e.g. medical networks, sensor networks, networks in a car or remote metering networks
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/02Services making use of location information
    • H04W4/029Location-based management or tracking services

Abstract

A networking system comprising a server (2) and plurality of handheld communication devices (3a) connected to the server, wherein the server comprises: - a database (9) comprising, the geographical location of user (10), service providers (11) and, for each service provider, the geographical location of at least one service agent (12), a communication interface (5) receiving geographical locations of the users, a memory storing a service request and a destination of the user, a sorting device (14) choosing for a service request, based on the geographical location of the user, on the respective geographical locations of the service agents, and on the geographical location of the destination, a first service agent related to the service request.

Description

NETWORKING SYSTEM

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The instant invention relates to networking systems .

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Some networking systems enable users to remotely communicate with each other. These systems classically use user profiles, in which user information is stored, such as private information which is known only to the system manager, and public information, which is available to all or to some of the other users according to authorizations defined by the user.

Most often, users of such systems are individuals at home, who use such systems for social activity with other individuals.

Recently, it has become possible to access such networks also when travelling, through one's own communication device, such as a mobile phone or a Personal Digital Assistant. Still more recently, it has become usual to equip such communication devices with Satellite Navigation System receivers.

Surprisingly, it appeared that these tools offer new possibilities, for example in the field of travelling assistance.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is provided a networking system comprising a server and plurality of handheld communication devices each adapted to be connected to the server through a network, wherein the server comprises: a database comprising a plurality of users and, for each user, the geographical location of the user, the database further comprising a plurality of service providers each offering at least one service and, for each service provider, the geographical location of at least one service agent, a communication interface adapted to receive through said network from the handheld communication devices held by the users, at least a geographical location of the user, and a service request comprising a destination of the user, a memory adapted to store said service request, a sorting device adapted, for a service request, to choose, based on the geographical location of the user, on the respective geographical locations of the service agents, and on the geographical location of said destination, at least a first service agent related to the service request, wherein the communication interface is adapted to formulate a message related to the user, the service request and the first service agent, and a message-sending interface adapted to send said message to said communication device through said network.

By "destination", it is understood that a current destination of a traveling user, or a programmed or desired destination of a not-yet traveling user are comprised. The short-term or instantaneous destination is also comprised, which can be estimated by the current position and instantaneous speed vector of the user. In some embodiments, one might also use one or more of the features defined in the dependent claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other characteristics and advantages of the invention will readily appear from the following description of some of its embodiments, provided as non- limitative examples, and of the accompanying drawings. On the drawings :

Fig. 1 is a schematic view of a networking system, and - Fig. 2 to 9 are schematic views of screens of handheld communication devices upon use of the networking system.

On the different Figures, the same reference signs designate like or similar elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Fig. 1 describes a network 1, such as the GSM network or the like, to which a server 2 is connected so as to communicate, through the network 1, with communication devices 3a, 3b. Such communication devices are for example handheld communication devices 3a such as mobile phones or personal digital assistants of the common type. Such communication devices 3a may be designed to interact with a satellite positioning system, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) or similar, whereby upon operation of the satellite navigation system, a geographical location of the communication device is automatically known. For example, the Ground Positioning System could operate in differential mode so as to improve its accuracy. Such communication devices might conventionally comprise a message -sending interface and/or a message- receiving interface adapted respectively to send and/or receive messages through the network, from another entity connected to the network. Classically, these messages are of the short message service (SMS) type or of the multimedia message service (MMS) type, enabling to send and/or receive at least a few alpha-numerical symbols per message, and thus minimizing the required bandwidth.

Service providers 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4e are also connected to the server 2 through the network 1. A service provider is for example a company, or a division of a company, or an individual, or else, providing a service.

As exemplified, purely illustratively on Fig. 1, such a service provider is for example a public or private transportation company which comprises a plurality of service agents Y0, Yi, Y2/ Y3 • The service agent designated by Y0 is for example an office of the company, whereas the service agents Y1, Y2 and Y3 are buses, each operating a respective transportation line comprising numerous stops. In this example, each of the service agents has a handheld or fixed communication device 3b.

Another service provider is for example a bike rental company, designated by 4b on Fig. 1, comprising, as service agents, a first bike rental station Zl and a second bike rental station Z2 , each having a communication device

3b communicating with the server 2 through the network 1.

Another kind of possible service providers is for example a free-lance taxi driver, designated as 4c on Fig.

1, being its own service agent, and comprising his own communication device 3b of a type similar to the one described before under reference 3a.

Another service provider, as designated by reference 4d on Fig. 1 is for example an individual ready to offer first aid, and being, as such, his own service agent. He/she also has a communication device 3b for communicating with the server 2 through the network.

Another service provider as designated by reference 4e on Fig. 1, is for example a food service company having a restaurant provided with a communication device 3b for communicating with the server 2 through the network 1.

Service providers can be chosen among public or private transportation companies (with, as agents, buses, trains, train stations, including freight rail stations, bus stops, ... ), cab companies, vehicle rental companies (with, as agents, shops), traffic regulation authorities (with, as agents, traffic lights), gas delivery companies (with, as agents, gas stations), tourist guiding companies (with, as agents, tourist places), or the like.

Service providers could be classified per categories such as transportation, food service, first aid, security , ... .

In the described example, the communication devices 3b held by the service agents comprise a message- sending and/or a message-receiving interface adapted to communicate with the server 2 through the network 1. In the case of mobile service agents such as buses, taxi drivers, individual drivers, or the like the communication devices are adapted to periodically send the instantaneous geographical location of the agent to the server 2 through the network, for example by using the satellite navigation system such as previously described in relation to the communication devices 3a. Communication devices 3b of the restaurant, of the office Y0, or of the bike renting stations, or the like being fixed, need not necessarily communicate their geographical location to the server 2. The geographical location of these agents can be permanently stored at the server. In order to have a permanently up to date position, a validity period can be added to the position to take into account potential moves. These information are fed in advance in the system.

Further, the message-sending interface of these communication devices is adapted to send to the server 2, through the network 1, information relating to the service agent or its service provider. Examples of such information are, for example, for a bus, the availability of seats in the bus (instantaneously evaluated by a driver upon people taking or leaving the bus) ; for a bike rental station, the availability of bikes, or the like.

The server 2 comprises a communication interface 5 comprising a message-receiving interface 6 adapted to receive messages from the communication devices 3a and 3b. The communication interface further comprises a message- interpreting interface 26 adapted to obtain, from the received messages, a service request from the user. For example, the message-interpreting interface 26 comprises a database of previously defined keywords, and is adapted to detect the keywords in the received message. Such keywords are defined in a server-dependent way, such as, for example, "DSTN" for destination, "BUY" for buying, "BOOK" for booking, or the like. The message- interpreting interface 26 might also comprise processing means adapted to identify in the received message an address (number, street, city, ...) contained in the message and identified in an atlas of a database, so as to convert this address into a global coordinate system expressed for example in longitude, latitude and altitude.

According to another embodiment, the message- interpreting interface 26 is adapted to interpret requests made in a casual language (and possibly adapted to have the message -sending interface send requests for clearer information to the user, in case of non-understandable service requests) .

The communication interface 5 further comprises a message- sending interface 7 adapted to send through the network messages of a type suitable for being read by the communication device to which it is destinated. A message- generating interface 8 is connected to the message-sending interface 7 in order to generate messages to be sent by the message -sending interface, as will be described in more details below. The message-generating interface is for example adapted to extract information from a database 9 and to assemble the information in a relevant way. The message-generating interface can for example assemble an alias of an identified service agent, another information related to the service agent (such as cost, ...) and one or more keywords relevant to the service agent, such as "CALL" for establishing a communication with the agent, "BOOK" to place an on-line booking order on the agent, "GO TO", to extract a map, or the like. The message-receiving interface 6 is interconnected to a database 9 which stores data about a plurality of users 10, of service providers 11, each comprising one or plurality of service agents 12 and a plurality of certification providers 13. In the database 9, for each user 10, various data is stored such as, for example the identity of the user, one or a plurality of alias of the user for use on the network, as well as the instantaneous geographical location of the user, as obtained from the GPS and/or a reference to a certification provider.

Similar data can be stored for each service agent in the database. For some non mobile service agents, the instantaneous geographical location is a permanent geographical location. Further, data about the service agents can be stored in the database from pre-established calibrations, or derived directly and/or indirectly from the information transmitted from the communication devices 3b of the service agents, such as : availability, cost for a ride, itinerary and future departure time of the car- sharing driver, number of available seats, pollution characteristics, menu of a restaurant, rating by a customer association, average speed and the like.

Further, the certification providers are companies allowed by the server manager to certify the nature and/or the accuracy of the information of the database regarding users and/or service agents.

For example, a certification company is the bank of one of the users stored among the users 10, and certifying, for example through online banking access to the bank's website, that the given user has sufficient resources to afford the services of one or more of the service providers .

Other kinds of certification providers 13 can include official authorities certifying that a given service agent is legally authorized to offer the service it offers. For example, such a certification provider is an official national agency certifying that somebody identified on the server as a taxi driver has a licence for working as a taxi driver. Thus, some of the users, the service providers or the service agents can have, in the database 9, a link to a certification provider so as to inform other parties to the networking system of its nature. Only the manager of the server 2 is allowed to certify a given company as a certification provider for a given service.

The database 9 can further include an atlas 27 comprising the geographical location of numerous addresses.

Alternatively, the atlas 27 could be connected to the server 2 through the network 1. The atlas can also include streets in particular or any communication line in general.

The server 2 further comprises a sorting device 14, possibly an analysing device 15 which will be described in more details below, and a memory 16.

The sorting device 14 is programmed to select one or a plurality of service agents suitable to respond to a service request sent by the user to the server, and understood by the message-interpreting interface 26 based on the position, the destination of the user, the nature, the position and/or the destinations of the service agents. For a service request sent by an user and interpreted by the message interpreting interface, the service request will comprise a request for a given service. The sorting device 14 will elect, in the database of service providers, the service providers likely to be able to, at least partly fulfil the request. For example, if the request is for being transported to a destination, only transportation service providers likely to go to the destination are elected. In this example, restaurants are discarded, for example. Based on the geographical location of the service requester, further service providers are removed from consideration. For example, if the location and the destination are in a given city, air transportation companies are removed from consideration, as well as interurban transportation service providers of other cities. If the request specifies a time at which the offer will be needed, other service providers can be removed from consideration. Among the retained service providers, the sorting device 14 retains the service agents which are the most efficiently likely to fulfil, at least partly the service request, in particular based on the geographical location of the service agents retrieved from the database. It should be noted that the sorting device 14 is enabled to deal the service request into partial service requests and to perform as above for all partial service requests, for example if it is necessary to use two or more service agents or service providers to fulfil the request.

The analysing device 15 is programmed to analyze the geographical locations and/or destinations of the users and/or the service agents, and to automatically generate service requests based on this analysis, and/or to enrich the database 9 with information.

One use of the networking system which has been described above is exemplified below.

In this example, an user Xi has a communication device 3a which periodically communicates to the server 2 its geographical location. This geographical location data is periodically received at the message-receiving interface

6 of the server 2, and is used to update in the database 9 the geographical location of the user 10. The user Xi is identified in the database for example through the SIM reference of the SIM card of his/her phone.

When the user Xl wishes to go to a given destination, he formulates and sends to the server 2 a message M(xi) comprising this service request. As shown on Fig. 2 as an example, the service request sent to the server 2 in SMS format comprises the keyword "DSTN" , for destination, and "X2" which represents the alias of another user of the networking system, the actual geographical location of whom is unknown to the user Xi, and whom the user X1 intends to meet .

The message, formulated by the user Xl, as shown on Fig. 2, is received by the message-receiving interface 6, is interpreted by the message-interpreting interface 26 and is stored in any suitable way in the memory 16 of the server 2.

The geographical location of the destination, which is the instantaneous geographical location of the user X2 is retrieved from the database 9 for the user X2 by the message- interpreting interface 26. The geographical location of the user Xl and the geographical location of the destination are input into the sorting device 14. The sorting device further sorts among the service agents 12, to find those most suitable to fulfil the service request. For example, in a first step, the sorting device sorts out all the service providers which are not related to transportation requests (as identified by the keyword "DSTN" in the message) such as restaurants or the like. Further, the sorting device 14 compares the instantaneous geographical location of the user X1 and of the service agents of various service providers, to retain only those which are nearest to the instantaneous geographical location of the user X1 (within a predetermined distance, for example depending on the nature of the service agent) . Further, for service agents which operate along predefined itineraries, those which are not suitable for taking the user Xl to destination are discarded.

Based on the calculation of the sorting device 14, the message-generating interface 8 formulates a message M (Y2, X2, t2, Φ2) to the user X1 comprising at least one service agent (Y2) suitable for fulfilling the service request, the actual position (X2) of the agent, the time

(t2) to destination using the agent, and/or another service information such as the cost (Φ2) of the agent. Relevant data of the message is also stored in the memory 16. The message is sent by the message-sending interface 7 through the network 1 to the communication device of the user X1, purely illustratively as shown on Fig. 3. Fig. 3 shows the screen 17 on which a table of suitable service agents identified by the sorting device 14 is provided.

For example, among the taxi drivers registered in the database 9, the sorting device 14 as elected one of the taxi drivers which is located in close proximity to the user Xi, and for which additional information is recorded in the database that the taxi driver is available.

Further, service information can be sent to the user X1 such as for example, the time which it would take for the user Xl to destination by the identified service agent. This time can for example be estimated based on the distance between the actual location of the user X1 and the location of the destination, and on the average travelling time on the kinds of roads of the itinerary. this estimation can be enhanced by using local traffic information, for example obtained by analysing locally the position data received from communication de vices of other users along the itinerary, or even on the average speed of the taxi driver in service, for example stored as additional information in the database for the taxi driver. This average speed can have been estimated by the analysis device 15 from previous drives of the driver, in a way which will be described in more details below.

Another information which can be sent to the user X1, regarding this service agent is the cost of the service agent for going to the destination, which will for example include the cost of the taxi and the cost of using the server 2 for going to destination. This cost can for example be estimated by the server 2 based on additional data of the taxi driver stored in the database, relating to its kilometric fare. Another information could be the reference of the service agent to a certification provider, or an assessment of the service provider by a customer information, stored in the database for the service agent, the availability of the agent, the time or distance to the agent, the current destination or itinerary of the agent, or the like. Still another information could be pollution characteristics, such as green house effect gases emission, Co or C02 emission, NOx emission, for example per kilometer and per passenger, or integrated on the user's travel, or any suitable pollution function integrating the pollution impact of the service agent. Thus, the displayed service information could be calculated by the server from the database, based on the geographical locations of the user, of the destination of the service agents and/or the time and date or any dynamic data contained in the database. As shown on Fig. 3, other service agents are listed on the screen 17, such as a bus (on line 2.), a car rental company (identified by "CRNT" on line 3.) and a bike renting station (on line 4.) and for each of these, the time to destination and the cost of the service agent. The results could comprise many service agents of the same nature (e.g. many taxies) and/or many service agents from a given service provider.

The user could have an option that service agents without a certification provider, or without a certification provider recognized by the user be sorted out by the sorting device, and not shown on its screen.

In any conventional way, the user will be able to display the results provided by the sorting device 14 on its screen sorted by nature, by time to destination, by cost, or by any other relevant available information. The user Xi can then select one of the service agents, by a suitable selection device, for example by pressing on a corresponding key of his communication device or by pointing the screen with a stylus or the like. If, for example, the user chooses the quickest way to destination and selects the taxi driver by pressing 1, a message carrying this selection will be sent, through the network 1, to the message receiving interface 6. The message will be interpreted by the message interpreting interface 26. The message generating interface 8 will generate a further message related to the service request, the user and the service agent, comprising, for example further information about the service agent, such as its alias on the server 2 (here 51A847) , the alias of the service provider (here TXI-OYONNAX) and, if available, a reference to a certification provider (here TXI-CTF) , as well as further possible keywords for the user, such as for example "BOOK" or "CALL" . This message will be sent by the message sending interface 7 and received on the screen 17 as shown on Fig. 4.

If the user selects "BOOK" a corresponding message will be sent from the user's communication device 3a to the server 2 through the network 1. The message generating interface 8 will generate a message informing the taxi driver that he has been booked by the user X1 to go to destination X2, the geographical location of the user Xi and, if available, the certification provider of the user, and this message will be sent to the driver by the message sending interface 7 through the network. If the communication device of the taxi driver allows vocal communication, the server 2 could establish an anonymous vocal communication for example by Voice Over IP between the communication devices of the user Xi and of the taxi driver if the user selects "CALL" . If the transaction is agreed, the voucher is automatically uploaded on the user's mobile phone. Further, the availability of the taxi driver is turned off in the database. The estimated time at destination is also stored in the database and is periodically updated based on the instantaneous geographical location of the user.

Alternatively, if for example, the user Xl is ready to take some exercise, and to go to its meeting by bike, he can press the key "4" of his mobile phone. This information will be sent to the server 2 through the network 1. The response of the user Xi will be interpreted by the message- interpreting interface 26, and the message- generating interface will produce an interactive map of the surroundings of the user X1 and the closest available bike rental station, which will be sent to the user Xi by the message-sending interface 7 through the network 1, in the MMS format. This message can be displayed on the screen 17 as shown on Fig. 5, which represents as 18 the user's location, as 19 the bike rental station's location. The map could further comprise further information such as, for example, service agents the current geographical location of whom is within the map, such as for example, a subway station 20. The map will help the user Xl to go to the bike rental station. The map could be updated as the user Xl moves in direction of the bike rental station since geographical location of the user is updated in the database thanks to the GPS system and, after the user has hired the bike, to guide the user (arrow 21 on Fig. 5) to its final destination as stored in the memory 16. The user could book a bike parking slot at destination. It should be noted that more than one service agent could be used for fulfilling the service request. If, for example, the user selects line # 2, it might turn out that it is quicker to go to the bus stop by bike.

The server 2 will generate a more detailed message carrying detailed information about the service agents. As shown on Fig. 6, the user will be advised first to hire a bike to go to bus station # 46 and then to take bus # 327. The server estimates the time at which the user will be at the bus stop in order to determine which bus the user will be able to take. The suitable bus is estimated based on its current position, the position of the bus stop, which is the destination of the bike, the estimated time at the bus stop and, of course, the final destination of the user. The total time and cost shown on Fig. 3 are detailed for each of the agents of Fig. 6. The time to destination and other service information are updated dynamically based on the respective positions of the service agents. If, after a while, the user has not made a decision, and missed a bus, the time to destination by bus is updated and an updated message is sent to the user as shown on Fig. 7. It is now estimated that it will take 25' by bus. The sorting on the screen 17 is performed by the quickest way to destination.

In the above example, the geographical location of the destination was retrieved from the database as the instantaneous geographical location of a registered user. However, the geographical location of the destination could be provided by the user himself when sending the message as shown on Fig. 2. The message-interpreting interface is then adapted to determine the geographical location of the destination from the address sent by the user and the atlas 27 comprising a list of streets and towns and/or their geographical locations.

According to another embodiment, the geographical location of the destination is a so-called "instantaneous" destination which could be estimated by a destination estimation device 25 of the server from a plurality of successive locations transmitted by the user. For example, in the database, the current location, as well as a previous location of the user are stored, which enables to estimate a displacement vector of the user. The geographical location of the destination is estimated by- applying the displacement vector to the instantaneous geographical location. In the first embodiment as described above, the response to the service request emitted by the user is instantaneous. However, in another embodiment, the service request could be pre-registered in the memory 16. For example, the user could send to the server 2 a request for reception of an alert message if the user comes in the neighbourhood of Chinese restaurants registered in the database between 12:00 and 13:00. Such a message could be sent from the user communication device as "RSTRT CHINESE 12:00-13:00" or in any predefined way understandable by the message-interpreting interface. Everyday, from 12:00 to 13:00, the sorting device will compare the instantaneous geographical location of the user and the ones of suitable restaurants, stored in the database as service providers and will determine, based on the geographical location of the user, the geographical location of its instantaneous destination, and the geographical location of the restaurant whether the user is close to and is moving toward the restaurant . When the user comes into the neighbourhood of the restaurant (within a predetermined distance) the message-generating interface 8 will generate a message indicating the restaurant to the user, as well as a list of available options to the user. The message is sent by the message -sending interface 7 to the user through the network. For example, as shown on Fig. 8, when the user is moving toward the bike rental station, the user will receive a message from the restaurant (identified as X3 on Fig. 8) . The user is free to read the message by selecting "OK" or to delete the message by selecting "DEL" . The message can comprise the name and position of the restaurant and the restaurant could be visualized as 28 on the map on the user's screen 17. Any other information about the restaurant which is stored in the database could be sent to the user, such as the menu or the daily specials. The user could be proposed to book a table (BOOK) and/or to be brought in communication (CALL) with the restaurant, as shown on Fig. 9.

In another embodiment, the message-generating interface will generate the message even when the user is not yet in the vicinity of the restaurant, based on the estimated time at destination and the geographical location of the destination. In this way, if the user books a table of the restaurant, the booking time can periodically be modified based on the updated estimated time at destination. A whole travel (including transportation, restaurant, hotel and/or leisure activities) can be planned and be periodically modified so as to be adapted to the current location of the user. For example, when the user is stuck in a traffic jam on his way to a train station, his booking on a train can be automatically cancelled and replaced by a booking on a later train. If no bookings are available on later trains, the user could be provided with a list of hotels for the night in the vicinity of the station. It will be understood that the message-interpreting interface will be designed to interpret numerous requests such as pre-defined in the server by keywords such as DSTN, RSTNT, or the like, or as selected by the user from multiple choices on the screen, such as BOOK, BUY, CALL, OK, NO, DELETE, CANCEL. This formatted data exchange might be developed by the server manager, offering new options as time goes by.

As shown on Fig. 1, an analysis device 15 is suitable for analysing transmission data from the various communication devices 3a, 3b. These data will be used, for example, to enrich the database 9 with additional information, and/or will be communicated to service providers even m order for them to improve their services. These analyses could also be sent to other service providers able to provide other services as will be explained m more details below.

In the above described example of the taxi driver, the analysis device 15 will receive position data of the taxi driver from its communication device during the whole completion of the transportation of the user to destination

(so called observation period) . As described above, the average speed of the driver during its transportation service will be stored m the database, as well as other relevant information such as the week day and/or the time of day, so as to be able to provide a correct time estimation, the next time the transportation service is requested .

In order to improve the quality of their service, the service providers will also be able to analyse the requests without answers.

The analysis device 15 could also compare the data with previously stored data, which are illustrative of normal operative conditions. The memory 16 could therefore hold permanent requests by service providers to receive an alert message if an abnormality is spotted in given places and destinations and/or times of day/week. If an abnormality is detected by the analysing device 15, the message generating-device 8 could generate a message to a service provider comprising a geographical location of the detected abnormality, and the geographical location of the destination of the abnormality (for example determined from the displacement direction of the taxi by the direction estimating device 25) . Such a service provider is for example a traffic regulation authority which has previously sent a request to the server to receive an alert message in. case of traffic abnormalities detected by the analysis device. The traffic regulation authority will then be able to dispatch traffic regulation agents onto the location of the abnormality. In another embodiment, the sorting device 14 could choose a traffic regulation agent from the corresponding database 12, on the location of the service agent, and have the message sent by the message-sending interface directly to the chosen service agent (s) . The traffic regulation authority could also request to be put in communication with the taxi driver, in order to check the origin of the abnormality.

Other automatic service requests could be sent to offices of the service providers. For example, if a bike rental station has been identified as full for a long time, a service request for a lorry could be sent to the office of the bike rental company, as well as a possible destination for the lorry, such as other bike rental stations with few bikes. Alternatively, a suitable lorry could be chosen by the sorting device 14 based on its current location, and a relevant message could be made to be sent to this lorry by the message-sending interface.

Data related to the various service agents can also be sent to the office Y0 of the service provider, which will be able to analyze the data itself, for example, in a view to optimizing its service. It is therefore understood that the analysing device could also be implemented in- house at a service provider.

The pollution characteristics of a given agent and/or a given user can also be integrated along the time. A regulation authority could place a permanent request to receive information about users or agents having a given pollution characteristics (for example reaching a predefined pollution threshold) . This authority could for example be a tax authority managing pollution emissions of users of the system. This regulation authority is a certification provider which certifies that a given user or agent still has a right to produce pollution. When an agent has taken an user to its destination, pollution accounts of the user and/or of the agent in the database are updated by the regulation authority of an amount corresponding to the pollution characteristics emitted during the trip. Rights to pollute can be traded between users and/or between users and agents under supervision of that authority. For example, an user will request to be credited the whole pollution characteristics of his taxi ride, in exchange for a reduced transportation fee. This trade will be allowed only by the regulation authority taking into account the actual pollution accounts of the user and of the taxi driver, and for example the actual pollution market price.

According to another embodiment, as shown on Fig. 1, if the communication device 3a of an user is equipped with a reading device 22, it is able to read data, such as a corresponding optical bar code, or radio frequency identification tags and to send a corresponding service request to the server 2. For example, the bar code will be available on an advertising for a product in a magazine, and a communication device 3a will generate, upon reading the bar code 23 with the reading device 22, a request to buy the advertised product. This message will be received, through the network 1, at the message-receiving interface 6, and the sorting device 14 will search, in the database 9, for shops provided with the product according to the geographical location of the user, the current geographical location of the destination of the user, and the geographical location of the shops.

A given user Xl could have an alias with which he requires services, as described above, and another alias as a service agent, whereby he can be contacted by other users for services. For example, the user could be registered as having a first aid certificate and, upon going to the nearest bike rental station as described above, receive from the server 2, a communication from another user needing first aid services. The database 9 could also be accessed from a computer through the network, by a classical HTML interface, or similar. This would enable users/service providers to change their profile information, and/or to define requests for which messages will be sent to their mobile phone. Preferably, communication with communication devices 3a, 3b use mostly informative data. The time data used by the server are for example expressed in Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT) , and are translated into local time data at the communication device. The position data could be transmitted using the WGS84 standard, or any other suitable standard. Further when appropriate, data exchange on the network 1 could be made secure by suitable coding/encoding at the server 2 and at the communication devices 3a, 3b. A local language could be used for displaying the service requests or the service offers within the networking system. The message generating interface 8 could elaborate a message in an universal language, which would be transcoded at the user's phone in a language defined by the user Xi, according to language information about the user stored in the database 9, or the language preference stored on the phone.

As described below, the networking system offers a wide range of other possible applications, as briefly described below :

Traffic light monitoring : traffic lights at a cross road can be equipped with communication devices which transmit the state (green/red) of the light dynamically to the server. A service requester can be a driver driving to a given destination which requests the traffic status from a traffic managing authority. Periodically, the sorting device will identify the next traffic light on the itinerary of the user. This identification could be performed each time the user drives by a traffic light. Messages received by the drivers include a distance to the next traffic light, and a current status of the traffic light, and/or the speed at which to drive in order to have the light green. As an example, the traffic could be analysed by the analyzing device at the traffic light, based on the geographical location of drivers driving through the crossroad, and the analysing device could generate a request to adapt the frequency of the traffic light to the state of traffic.

Bus "jump- in" system : the user can request from the server 2 to be provided with the time at which the next bus/train will enter a given station (for example close to his office) in a given direction. This will enable the user to synchronize his departure from work in order to timely take his bus. Intervention coordination: in case there is a request for an intervention in a given place, for example needing a plurality of service providers, such as firemen, police, ambulances, doctors, rescue teams, ... , the server can dynamically monitor the intervention status of all the service agents of the various service providers so as to coordinate their intervention.

Hence, the service request might need several kinds of service providers in order to be fulfilled. From the completion of the intervention, required service providers can be determined, and the emergency level of their intervention updated.

For example, in response to a service request sent by the user, which needs a plurality of service providers for providing the service, the sorting device 14 chooses, based on the respective geographical locations of the user and of the service agents, at least a first service agent of a first service provider related to the service request, for example a fire station. The message-generating interface 8 formulates a message related to the service request and the message-sending interface 7 sends the message to the fire station, whereby the firemen are made to move toward the user .

During the intervention, the firemen periodically send to the server 2, a service completion status including the instantaneous geographical location of the firemen. The service completion status further comprises service requests, for example following the number and nature of injuries as determined by the firemen, the suitable quantity of healthcare personal with the suitable skills can be determined.

Then, the sorting device 14 chooses, based on the service completion status of the firemen, and on the respective geographical locations of the service agents, suitable other service agents of other service providers related to the service request, such as an ambulance of a neighbour ambulance company and a surgeon of a nearby hospital .

The above -described system allows, by essence, functions which, up to now, have been achieved only by the combination of multiple communication systems such as radio, mobile phones, walkie-talkies,... . Hence, the ability to coordinate multiple service providers is enhanced.

Tank filling : if the communication device 3a is connected, for example by Bluetooth, to a vehicle, the vehicle can send, upon detecting being low on fuel, a request for the position of the closest gas station along the itinerary of the user. Gas companies, as service providers, have a number of gas stations, as service agents defined in the database. Other information could include the types of fuel available at the station, or the like,... . Security watch : a watch camera having an integrated communication device could send detection data to a computerized unit. The computerized unit, adapted to recognize, by image treatment analysis, on the detection data, a car ID number corresponding to the number of a stolen car memorized in a stolen car database, can send a request to the server 2 to find a police patrol (service agent) suitable for intercepting the stolen car, based on the position of the camera, the destination of the car as determined from the camera data, and the locations of the police patrols. The car ID number and the position of the camera are sent to the chosen police patrol by message.

Tourist guide : a tourist in a new city could send to the server 2 a request for reception of tourist information when he comes in the neighbourhood and is moving toward a tourist place.

Worldwide assistance : an user needing assistance could send to the server 2 a request, for example to obtain the address of his consulate in a foreign country, or to be brought into communication with assistance personal speaking his language, as defined in the phones preferences. A medical file could be made to be transferred, upon request from the user, to a local hospital for example, or to the user's own mobile phone. Rail piggybacking : a request for piggybacking could be sent by a truck driver, further comprising the weight and/or volume of his truck, and its destination. The sorting device 14 could identify a suitable train (service agent) for carrying the truck to destination, and communicate the coordinates and time of departure, ..., of the train to the truck driver.

Pollution management : each user have instantly access to his pollution emissions from a given point in time. An user could pre-program a request to receive an offer to contribute to the planet (for example by funding a tree plantation) each time he reaches a given pollution threshold. This pollution can be estimated from the user's trips using the system but could be further enriched by other data, such as, for example, provided from energy companies. For example, the reading device 22 could be used by the user to scan his energy bills and thus update his pollution account in the system data base.

It is understood that many other applications could be developed using the networking system which has been described above, and that some of the above described applications are presently considered innovative as such, and could benefit from protection independently from the instantly claimed networking system.

As shown on Fig. 1, the user X2 could be provided with a personal identification (ID) device 24 suitable for being read by the reading device 22, so as to enable access to the server 2 only upon reading the ID device 24 with the reading device 22. The ID device 24 and the reading device 22 are of any suitable type, such as near, field optical, radio frequency ID, biometric, ... .

As usual, the server could be distributed over the network, even in different countries. The various operating elements could be software elements programmed to run on computers to operate .

Claims

1. A networking system comprising a server (2) and plurality of handheld communication devices (3a) each adapted to be connected to the server through a network, wherein the server comprises: a database (9) comprising a plurality of users (10) and, for each user, the geographical location of the user, the database further comprising a plurality of service providers (11) each offering at least one service and, for each service provider, the geographical location of at least one service agent (12), a communication interface (5) adapted to receive through said network from the handheld communication devices held by the users, at least a geographical location of the user, a memory (16) adapted to store a service request by the user and a destination of the user, - a sorting device (14) adapted, for a service request, to choose, based on the geographical location of the user, on the respective geographical locations of the service agents, and on the geographical location of said destination, at least a first service agent related to the service request, wherein the communication interface (5) is adapted to formulate a message related to the user, the service request and the first service agent, and to send said message to said communication device through said network.
2. A networking system according to claim 1 wherein the sorting device (14) is adapted to choose a plurality of service agents, and wherein the communication interface (5) is adapted to formulate a message comprising the plurality of service agents.
3. A networking system according to claim 2 wherein the handheld communication device comprises a selection device adapted to select one of the plurality of service agents, and wherein the communication interface (5) is adapted to receive through the network from the handheld communication device the selected service agent.
4. A networking system according to claim 2 wherein the sorting device (14) is adapted to choose a second service agent based on the geographical locations of a destination of the first service agent, of the respective service agents, and of the destination of the user.
5. A networking system according to claim 4 wherein the server is adapted to estimate a time at destination of the first service agent, and wherein the sorting device (14) is adapted to choose the second service agent also based on said time.
6. The networking system of any preceding claim wherein the message comprises a service offer from the first service agent to the user.
7. The networking system of claim 6 wherein the service offer comprises the geographical location of the service agent .
8. The networking system according to claim 6 or 7 wherein the service offer comprises identification information about the service agent, as well as another information of the service agent.
9. The networking system according to claim 8 wherein said other information comprises at least one of the following: - the availability of the first service agent, the cost of the service offer, the time to destination, the distance to the first service agent, a pollution characteristics of the service offer.
10. The networking system of any of claims 8 or 9 wherein the server is adapted to estimate said other information based on the geographical locations of the user, of the service agent and of the destination.
11. The networking system of any preceding claim further comprising communication devices (3b) at respective service agents, each adapted to be connected to the server (2) through the network.
12. The networking system of claim 11, wherein the communication interface (5) is further adapted to formulate an agent -directed message related to the user, the service request and the first service agent, and to send said agent -directed message to the communication device of the first agent (3b) through said network.
13. The networking system of claim 11 or 12 wherein the communication interface is adapted to receive through the network the geographical location of the service agents, from the respective service agents communication devices (3b) .
14. The networking system of any of claims 11 to 13 wherein the communication devices (3b) of said service agents each comprise a message-sending interface adapted to send to the server a service information of the service agent, and wherein the communication interface (5) is adapted to receive through the network said service information from the communication device of the service agent .
15. A networking system according to any of claims 11 to 14 wherein the server is adapted to establish a vocal communication between the communication devices (3a, 3b) of the user and of the first service agent.
16. The networking system according to any preceding claim, wherein the communication interface is adapted to receive through the network the geographical location of the destination from a communication device ( 3 a ) .
17. The networking system according to claim 16, wherein the database is further adapted to store a previous geographical location of the user, and wherein the server comprises a destination-estimation device (25) adapted to estimate the geographical location of the destination from the geographical location and the previous geographical location of the user.
18. The networking system according to any of claims 1 to 15, wherein the server (2) is adapted to retrieve from the user database the geographical location of the destination.
19. The networking system according to any preceding claim wherein the database further comprises certification providers (13), recognized by the server as certifying the liability of at least one entry of the database chosen among a service provider, a service agent, a service request, and an user, and wherein the database comprises, for at least said entry, a reference to a certification provider.
20. The networking system of claim 19, wherein the database comprises, for at least one user and one service agent, a pollution account, wherein the service request comprises a request to trade pollution, and wherein the database comprises a certification provider which manages pollution trade requests between users and service agents.
21. The networking system of claim 19 or 20, wherein the sorting device (14) is adapted to choose the first service agent also based on a reference of the service agents on a certification provider.
22. The networking system of any of claims 19 to 21 wherein the communication interface (5) is adapted to formulate a message further comprising identity information of the certification provider of the first service agent.
23. The networking system according to any preceding claim wherein the sorting device is adapted to periodically compare the geographical locations of the user, of the service agent and of the destination, and wherein the communication interface (5) is adapted to formulate the message when: it is estimated from the geographical location of the user and of the destination that the user and the destination are moving toward one another, and the distance between said locations is lower than a predefined threshold.
24. A networking system according to any preceding claim further comprising, for at least one communication device, an ID reading device (22), the system further comprising, for each ID reading device, at least one related ID card (24), the ID reading devices being adapted to read said ID cards and to allow the communication device to communicate with the server through the network only upon reading a pre-defined ID card.
25. A networking system according to any preceding claim wherein service agents are chosen from the following list: bus stops, buses, taxis, sub-urban trains, railway stations, vehicle rental stations, traffic lights, gas stations, freight rail stations, individual cars.
26. A networking system according to any preceding claim wherein the database comprises, for each user, the official identity of the user and at least one alias for the user, and wherein other users do not have access to the official identity of the user.
27. A networking system according to claim 26 wherein the database comprises, for at least one user, an alias corresponding to a service provider.
28. A networking system according to any preceding claim, wherein the server further comprises an analysis device adapted (15) to analyze the geographical locations of the user and to generate a service request based on said analysis .
29. A networking system according to any preceding claim wherein the communication interface (5) is adapted to receive through the network from the handheld communication devices the service request and the destination of the user .
30. A networking system according to any preceding claim wherein a handheld communication device comprises a reading device (22) adapted to read a related tag (23) carried on a medium, and carrying information and wherein the handheld communication device is adapted to generate a service request based on said information.
31. Method of providing an user with a service in response to a service request sent by the user, wherein a plurality of service agents are necessary for providing said service, wherein a service request is received at a communication interface (5) of a server, wherein a sorting device (14) of the server chooses, based on the respective geographical locations of the user and of the service agents, at least a first service agent related to the service request, wherein the communication interface (5) of the server formulates the service request and sends the service request and the geographical location of the user to the first service agent, whereby the first service agent is made to move toward the user, wherein the first service agent periodically sends to the server, during an intervention period during which the service request is not completely fulfilled, a service completion status including the instantaneous geographical location of the first service agent, wherein the sorting device (14) chooses, based on the service completion status of the first service agent, and on the respective geographical locations of the service agents, at least a second service agent related to the service request .
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