While project managers are working on designing mobile applications for nearly everything that could be imagined, some areas are being left out in the mobile apps design world. One niche area that has been overlooked is the horse drawn carriage tour guide industry. The main objective of the “Tour Guide Mobile App” is to serve this small target community. The idea for this mobile app is drawn from the field research of two case studies, specifically two of Philadelphia’s carriage companies, and the treatment of their horse drawn carriage drivers. This “Tour Guide Mobile App”, is really a Horse Carriage Drivers System which aims to analyze the effects of injustices that tour guides experience; ultimately to create a community that shares knowledge and tries to rectify these injustices. In the future this app could expand to encompass all of the tourism industry, for now it will concentrate on the results of the field research. If the reader will think of websites like “RateMyProfessors.com” or “Glassdoor.com”, which provides an inside look at jobs and companies, as examples of how this app will work, it will help to understand the main objectives. This “Tour Guide Mobile App” consists of customary systems used to collect georeferenced data: photos, videos, sensitive information and descriptive information, and also store and generate reports on incidents involving tour guides and animals.
It is estimated from the field research that all tour guides have some complaints about their jobs in the United States. Therefore, this paper will broaden the discourse needed to design a mobile app for carriage drivers to create a social network. It will address the topics of social justice, exploitation and advocate solutions to rectify such injustices. The main objective is to design a labor mobile app through “information pooling” (Ling & Donner, 2009, p.122), that addresses the issues that horse carriage tour guides experience everyday: 1) social injustice towards carriage drivers, 2) networking and education, 3) solutions for better working conditions.
Some of the Issues
The 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan has been quoted as saying, “I’ve often said there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse” (brainyquote.com.). Many horse people can declare this statement is so true. Reasons why people enjoy working as a carriage tour guide is working with horses, talking to tourists, meeting new people, opportunities for women and minorities, learning the history of the area. However, there are many negatives to working as a horse drawn carriage driver, such as, low wages, no health benefits unless you pay for them yourself-yet susceptible to dangerous conditions, pay for supplies through the company store and not reimbursed, working in the rain, snow and heat when there is very little chance of finding customers, long exhausting hours, back to back shifts and sometimes with short turn-around, no pay for work, general exploitation of the wage earner, plus constant condescending verbal interaction from senior management. With no human resources department it causes unprofessional relations and treatment.
Some of these injustices mentioned are drawn from the field research. The field research involved two case studies of the two horse carriage companies, driver interviews, watching and reporting on how they used their mobile phones. In order to keep these businesses anonymous, this discussion will refer to the largest as company (A); drivers are required to clean the harness and carriages to collect their 40% commission, if any of these are not done the management subtract the pay to 35%. If the driver doesn’t work 5 shifts and does not clean harness or carriage the management subtract the pay to 30% or even as low as 25%. Not all carriage companies use a pay arrangement like this at company (A). Another issue that drivers dislike is during the summer months workdays are extended to 12 hour days, and a driver that works four twelve hour days is putting in a 48 hour week, but is considered a part time employee. This subtraction of commission affects a large portion of your pay as a tour guide. The smaller company (B) uses a similar pay scheme just like company (A), but other carriage companies like the one in Cape May New Jersey pay their drivers hourly.
Mobile phones have certainly changed society by making it easier to communicate with many people for whatever reasons. Horse carriage drivers are no different. Fifteen years ago a tour guide in any emergency situation would need to walk down to the corner public pay phone. Some years ago, mobile phones may have been considered an overpriced business necessity, but today the mobile phones have “become a personal technology, integrated into our bodies and fashion sense, and thus domesticated” (Katz & Sugiyama, 2006, p.322). Horse carriage drivers are always mobile, moving about the city giving tours, the most important reason they need the cell phones are for emergencies. From the field research, one female driver from company (B) told the story of how she called 911 on a man because he was beating his wife right next to the carriage stand. Every carriage driver has a cell phone. Also, from the field research every driver uses their cell phones while on their tour routes.
The three most important issues that this app will concentrate on addressing: 1) Working as a horse carriage tour guide is a high risk job, with a lack of human respect from management regarding issues like personal time off, sick time, grievances. 2) Weather conditions for the human beings and the company doesn’t supply proper fowl-weather gear. Drivers are required to buy their own company shirts, jackets, because the company does not want to supply them. 3) Through the use of mobile phones, they’re already used by every tour guide, the networked community will have access to information that can help them find better companies to work for, by supplying access to the names, websites and contact information of every carriage company in the United States. Here would be a good time to introduce the importance of the story of the live-in-maids from Singapore, and how they valued their mobile phones, against the wishes of their employers. The idea for this app came from this story that Ling and Donner told, of creating an informal community of “information pooling” just like the Singapore housekeepers (Ling, & Donner, 2009, pp.121-122).
Connecting Marx, Ling & Donner
Society is altered by new technology into a new social image, or a modern self- realization. This is what Karl Marx’s notion of technology determining the form of society is basically speaking to (Marx, 1867). As the speed of production has increased in the capitalist modern world so has our need for faster signal processing. Now tourist and tour guides email digital receipts back and forth between office and the street. The mobile phone has become what Ling and Donner point out is called the “Swiss Army knife” (Ling, et al., 2009, p.11). These authors go on to say that because the mobile phone is used as a camera, a Rolodex, a logbook and a text reader; that going forward new uses will be invented (Ling, et Al., 2009). This “Tour Guide App”, which is grounding the functional design in social justice, will utilize GPS mapping, group SMS messaging and pre-programed tour resources in html links. Back to the Ling and Donner story of the Singapore house keepers that were discouraged by their employers of using mobile telephones. The maids felt they needed the phone to keep in touch with love ones, family and friends. According to their account, the employers did not approve of this “information pooling”; the maids would compare notes on working conditions, pay, shifts labored, sleeping periods, and when they relate they became unhappy (Ling, Et Al., 2009). This “Tour Guide app” will need to caution the end-users and suggest they use their mobiles in the same method in which the maids needed to use their mobile phones and use them stealthily. The objective of the app is not for the wage earner to experience any hardships by having discussion about work.
Employment law in tourism is big business and the drivers need to know what their rights are under the law. According to Soile Veijola in the article “Introduction: Tourism as Work,” she describes how most scholarly discourse use the tourist experience, not the perspective of the workers. She even mentions about Michel Foucault, and how he explored the points of capitalist types of new work (Veijola, 2009). This explanation ties into the “Tour Guides App” because to write about the whole tour guide industry would be beyond the scope of this paper. Tour guide work is valuable to the future studies of tourism, especially in this paper where the target audience for the app is the niche audience of the drivers themselves. Even with the lack of employment data on this small group of tourism employees, the significance of its likely impact to tourist studies, and the emerging research themes help wrap our heads around the complexities of this type of work (Ladkin, 2011; Veijola, 2009). Really we can just agree to limit this discussion to horse carriage drivers because there are too many different aspects of tour guides, for example; there are guides that work indoors, guides that work in corporate buildings, guides that work in theme amusement parks, but here in this paper we are specifically discussing the outdoor horse drawn carriage tour guide business.
Connecting Metadata in Metaspace
Lee Humphrey’s borrowed the term “metaspace” from Bunschoten’s (2003) narrative and relates the concept that social mobile networks can collect information over time on a temporary basis. I’m drawing parallels to Humphrey’s article titled “Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks”, where this app design can utilize some of Humphrey’s ideas, for example, the information can be collected and then become accessible back to the manipulators of the network by the use of end user reports, earlier posts or pictures and videos (Humphrey, 2012, p.497-498). This “Tour Guide App” will collect information to be used like diagnostic tools to evaluate the injustices that drivers draw attention toward. Then the drivers will have the metadata-ammunition or a better term would be the evidence to approach groups like the Better Business Bureau, National Labor Relations Board and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The ASPCA states that it is not opposed to the use of carriage-horses for hire as long as their physical and behavioral needs are fully met, housing and stable conditions are humane, and that their working hours and conditions are carefully regulated as to temperature, humidity, proximity to traffic, rest periods, etc. Working equines should receive regular veterinary and farrier care and be provided a humane retirement when no longer able to work.
(Mendell, 2006, p.144)
This is all a wonderful notion that the horses are taken care of in this humane manner, but that is not always the case, sometimes carriage company operators care more about profits and the bottom line. From the field research, one male driver told of how the company treats their horses better than the humans.
The Revolution of Control of the Power
The pendulum has been shifting back in favor of the employer since the recession of 2008 started in the U.S.A. and this app will help even the playing field. Janet Dickinson and Paul Peeters wrote in “Time, Tourism Consumption and Sustainable Development,” 2012, that working hours in tourism have blurred and intensified the workers’ lives and that overtime hours have increased between 1991 to 2010, in favor of the employers (Dickinson, & Peeters, 2012). Now we can fold this next bit of information into the argument to support the design of this app. Other topics that will need to be addressed by the content collected from the “information pooling”: pay schemes, insurance, working conditions, unprofessional management, also poor training and finally co-workers’ politics.
“Proper driving includes looking well in advance to where you are driving and calculating the proper strategy for the circumstances and terrain ahead” (Edgell, 2008, p.121). This quote is from Jennifer Edgell and her article “Driving Horse and Carriage: So Old, It’s New Again” is important to my argument, because drivers need to anticipate the tough times ahead and plan appropriately. During the summer months drivers need to save as much money as possible to weather the tough times during the winter months, when the business slows down by 80%. Companies do not teach everything that is needed in their training; a driver learns many dirty little secrets from the veteran drivers. These veteran drivers are nick named and are affectionately called ‘the island of misfit toys.’
In related news, the American Association Equine Practitioners or the AAEP has a website and publishes guidelines for commercial city carriage companies. They also publish these guidelines in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Some companies follow these guidelines and some just obviously neglect them. When the guidelines refer to standardization of rules for safety, health and welfare for all participants, there are not indicating the carriage drivers (AAEP news, 1995). There is an update on the AAEP website which is titled, “Position Statement on the Use of Horses in Urban Environments (2014)”. All the carriage drivers that participated in the field research for this project have no idea that these guidelines exist. This “Tour Guide app” will offer educational publications like this example given above.
How it works
Thismobile app would be designed for Android, iOS and Microsoft mobile devices.
From the Splash screen (main options screen) the end user can choose to upload new or existing digital photos or video. Requirements to blur the faces of people who appear in these postings will be left to the discretion of the person uploading the content. If the user chooses to take a new digital picture, the camera feature opens. If the user chooses to upload existing photos, he/she must validate (create a new user, or sign in as an existing user) and then choose which photos/video to upload.
The pages we need designed are: 1) Splash Screen with Logo and 5 to 6 navigational buttons, 2) Sign In – New User: Accessibility and Privacy Forms, 3) Social Justice navigation: The user chooses to take photos, video or upload previous photos, or video. The user can post text messages, similar to Twitter, the content could be attached via MMS or SMS in an attempt to rectify some of the injustices of the tour guides, 4) Listing of all carriage companies in the U.S.A. – Connect with other Tour Companies and educate yourself for better conditions, the main objective is to help tour guides find other companies to work for, thus to improve their working situation. This data would be retrieved from the carriage association websites that already exists, 5) weather links and alerts, 6) Statistics Page: knowledge base articles, books, website links, laws pertaining to the carriage industry
First, privacy is important andthe biggest challenge to this mobile app design is the privacy/surveillance issues. Because this app will act like a closed circuit, the meaning of closed circuit is that members only get to access the app. Due to the sensitive information and the plan to keep managers from stalking employees the app needs to be private. Therefore, a sponsorship scheme will be required. Each new user will be required to enter an existing carriage driver’s identification code to gain access. If the rules of privacy are broken then access will be revoked. Encryption coding and technology will be used extensively to protect undesirable access. Each member would be given a username and a sponsorship ID code. Secondly, the new user section of the app would require the end user to supply a fictitious name and email to access the community. The plan is not to allow people to log in with their LinkedIn or Facebook accounts or other social media sites because of possible security breach. This app is designed for drivers not the employers. We don’t want management stalking the app so they can retaliate against the worker. No information would be giving to or sold to third parties. Also, there would be a report system to the app administration in case any problems accrue. The end user’s postings would need to be monitored and taken down if any conflicts of interest surfaced.
Accessibility is extremely important because to actually become a horse carriage driver people need to be able-bodied. Of all the participants in this field research everyone was able-bodied. Therefore, at this time there are no plans to make this app accessible to all persons. Remember this is a closed circuit social group. There are approximately 13,640 lawyers working in the Philadelphia area (findthedata.org), and there are only 50 carriage drivers. One more reminder, this app is designed for an extremely small target audience.
Regarding mobile communication technologies, Rich Donner and Jonathan Donner wrote about a revolution of power in the social orb, they were examining the unlimited social forces at work (Ling & Donner, 2009). The power of the carriage drivers is not realized by themselves, or they would have used solidarity and fought with management on the injustices. When the tour guides distribute their images, video, stories of incidents without the filtering from the company management it will be a step to rectify the injustices (Snowden, 2012, p.124). Therefore, the app will help educate tour guide employees on the law, for example, Philadelphia Code 10-108. Also, to help protect them from unfair work environments, supervisors and management taking advantage of their employees. Similar to glassdoor.com, mentioned earlier, creating ratings on horse drawn carriage tour guide companies in the United States. In this section of the app the end user can enter PROs and CONs about each company. By creating a social network mobile app we could affect positive change, it would force managers of these companies to modify and become even more careful of how they treat their wage earners. We can’t expect that every tour company will unionize like the Central Park carriage drivers have (Horse Carriage Driver’s Union Backs Compromise To Keep Horses In Central Park, April 30, 2014, 1). By organizing as a national group, we have more power, thus through this “Tour Guide App” we can use our own version of carriage driver Sousveillance.
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