Just Give Me One Version of the Truth, Please
To any of my fellow travelers who have been fighting their way across country battling the weather in the past few weeks, this blog is dedicated to you. I thought we had gotten through the worst of it, but it seems that is not the case as I type this blog late on a Friday night stuck in a hotel room rather than at home where I should be.
So how did I end up here? Well, it started when one of my colleagues who shall remain nameless (@JBartolettiGE) arranged a team meeting in our Foxboro office on a Friday. A track of storms came through, and to cut a long story short, four of us were left stranded at Providence Airport trying to work a plan to get home.
Now, the value of “Big Data” when you are travelling is that you can get access to information in real time on your phone, tablet, and email from multiple sources. The problem we had was the conflicting messages we were getting about the same thing. Jeff and his boss were trying to decide whether to wait for the flight to PHL, to drive, or to get a train.
Within the space of one hour, we had a call from the airline saying the flight was delayed to 6:30 pm, the airport said 4:30 pm, the airline website said cancelled, and the airline phone app said 6:30 pm. Because we had different sources for the same date, it was very hard to make a sound decision as what to do.
It’s a fact that most of the disasters that happen in the world are by human error and it’s not that people are stupid. It’s the fact they get conflicting data at a critical time, which either delays or guides people to the wrong action. In the end, after an hour, the airline cancelled, so Jeff and his boss switched to a taxi and train to get home, and just managed to snag the last train tickets online.
For me, it brought home the fact that it is very useful to have real-time data but it has to be aggregated and validated before it’s passed on (one version of the truth) to ensure that right timely decisions are made.
Luckily enough, I knew about my cancellation mid-afternoon (my phone and website data aligned), so I was able to secure a hotel near the airport and get rebooked for Saturday once I finally reached my layover airport.
What have your travel experiences been this winter? Did you come across similar scenarios?