Smart Card Talk : March 2011 : SCALA Associate Director’s Letter

SCALA Associate Director’s Letter

Dear SCALA–Smart Card Alliance Latin America Member and Friends,

As some of the industry is returning from spring break or carnivals, it is clear that time passes too quickly for all of us to accomplish all our desired goals. Time management is a great tool used by managers to prioritize the limited time we have available to complete competing tasks. I always start the week by listing our goals and then dividing them into four categories: urgent/important; important/non-urgent; urgent/not important; and non-urgent/not important. Unfortunately, for some people, everything on their plate is urgent and important due to their job responsibilities.

The truth is that, outside of our health, time is the most valuable and important asset we have. All of us would love to spend more time with our wife/husband, kids, families, friends, and colleagues. This limited resource (time) must be allocated efficiently in order for us to take advantage of the opportunities to share time with loved ones. With this purpose in mind, we use tools to manage time more effectively, such as PDAs, smart phones, computers and other technologies. Smart cards are also tools that help us to monitor, analyze, organize, and manage time resources and infrastructure adequately.

One of my favorite applications that demonstrate the ability of smart card technology to effectively improve time management for mass populations is transportation. Customers normally don’t take a second look at the technology, logistics, resources, and management required to build an effective transportation system. The implementation of smart card technology for fare collection in transportation helps these entities to reduce the customers’ time in paying a fare. The time savings and improved money management in paying fares may mean additional time for the customer to spend with his/her family.

By implementing smart card technology with a complementary information technology infrastructure, transportation agencies are able to manage their resources (e.g., trains, metro, buses) to satisfy the transit needs of the population of a city or a country. The management of information allows the transportation agency to allocate their resources where they are most needed and helps the majority of citizens (i.e., creating demand). In turn, this adds to the value proposition of the transportation system and the quality of life and amount of productive time for the citizen.

In some Latin American countries, one of the value added benefits of eliminating cash collection and using smart cards was the increase in public transportation system security. In the past, some of these systems were vulnerable to theft, due to the management of the large amount of money collected by their resources (e.g., train, buses, metro). Today, the transportation systems have seen a boost in ridership due to the increase in security, quality, and speed of service. Overall, it has had a direct impact on improving the productivity of their citizens and increasing time availability after the commute. This premise has also held true in the financial sector where a reduction of physical cash has reduced theft from ATMs.

Sometimes, we look back on where we have spent our time and see that our projects have flourished. This, in turn, provides us with great satisfaction. In other cases we find that the time we have dedicated bears few fruit. Albert Einstein once said, “Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” I would like to think that as an industry we are dedicating our time to help solve real problems that bring the most value to citizens and customers.

I hope you all have a wonderful month!

Edgar Betts
Associate Director, Smart Card Alliance Latin America (SCALA)