Third and final installment: wrap up, drawbacks and other factors to concider
This proposal project is a collaborative effort of Shiho Kawashima, Melissa Mendoza, and Lyneve Quiles.
Change within an organization can have an effect on the attitude of those involved, some will be interested in the new events, and others will have an unenthusiastic outlook. The organization that makes up New York City's transit community can be divided into two groups, the formal network (bosses, workers, officials) and the informal networks (customers and commuters). For this improvement or change to take place within the organization, MTA employees along with commuters all must participate and comprehend how to use the plan. This way our goal is reached to make the innovation of mobile technology underground, a reality.
Both parties must contribute something to allow it to function properly, but it is truly dependent on the informal to prove to the formal network of the MTA that their money, time and effort have gone towards a public service that is beneficial and imperative for an overall change. The public (informal network) is highly influential on whether the change in the organization is viewed as successful or not. Our plan will now take into account the organizations informal networks.
With the launch of our plan, MTA employees, especially those who commute via subway will be taught and required to learn the new forms of obtaining information. This has a few benefits, they might one day be asked to explain an aspect of the plan to a customer, and with the complete knowledge of how it works, they will be able to help a fellow straphanger. As riders too, they can promote the act of using mobile technology. Take Lyneve's father Raul, for example, he is a part of the hierarchy that makes up the MTA's structure, this is his primary group. Raul also is a part of the informal network of people which frequent the trains, his family and friends all ride the train as well. With his direct communication to both groups he has ties to each network, he, and other employees act as a bridge between groups. Raul, along with all the other individuals, which make up the percentage of employees that ride the subway have the advantage to persuade the other groups in a positive manner, that the change in service is worthwhile. "Bridges are important persons in the change process because of their communication connections and influence in the primary group and with other groups or persons," state Richmond and McCroskey in Organizational Communication for Survival.
Another role within the informal communication network are the gatekeepers, who control the message flow through the organization. The MTA officials who send out notices to registered commuters and the straphangers who choose to send text messages throughout the network, become gatekeepers. These people decide what info passes through to the receivers end. In the same respect anyone who provides positive feedback towards the new plan becomes an opinion leader. This is someone who willingly communicates information or advice in a way which influences others attitudes to become excited and accepting towards the new idea. The MTA exclusively becomes the cosmopolite which regard to their high level of communication with the systems environment. They declare the new ideas which enter into the system. As for those individuals with no access to technology, they will feel isolated from the rest of the organization. The role as an isolate with holds any knowledge that is helpful when functioning in the system . These people will have to rely on the people which receive the warnings and updates concerning service. Each role plays a significant part in the transition process of change.
Out of "Six Conditions Necessary for Successful Change", here are three which our proposal takes into account:
- Persons implementing the change should be involved in the change process. Key roles such as opinion leaders and bridges are involved in the change and try to have it succeed. The chances of the plan becoming popular are better when, the people who have the ability to diffuse the project, offer good opinion towards the project.
- The change must show obvious, positive results soon. Once the plan is in effect and being used by the masses, immediate change should result. The effects will be positive and customers should be satisfied with the quick outcome.
- The change must be implemented in a carefully organized and gradual manner. Our proposal tries to avoid chaos while commuting, so the last thing we want is for the plan to cause a feeling of confusion. Through the media of print, the MTA can organize a campaign to advertise the introduction of the new innovations. Posters and train advertisements will begin informing the public before the connection is available. Pamphlets, which will sit next to the subway maps, will also be available. The public will be aware, prepared and thus excited for the new commuter experience.
The ability to communicate via text messages in New York City subways will mark a great progress in the daily lives of city commuters. Information, whether necessary or not, can now be easily communicated from one person to another. In addition, SMS capabilities underground and the commuter friendly MTA website can also improve a person's ability to communicate to the masses, all while having a smoother morning ride to work.
No longer do commuters need to depend on insufficient and inaudible announcements from the intercom system. While Ryan writes that "by repeating ourselves we further reduce the chances of being misinterpreted," this is simply not the case with the current announcement system. No matter how many times an announcement is made, the excessive noise in subway stations (from people, trains, and most of the time, static) will always find a way to prevent commuters from ever understanding the message. Our SMS plan will be able to reduce redundancy in announcement making. As Danielle writes, "Why say or do something twice, when you can do it well that first time?" Text messaging capabilities will enable the MTA to do just that.
In the current MTA information sharing system, information is passed through many nodes before information can reach the commuters. The current system is a potential problem. As Elizabeth argues, "when you transmit a message across additional means, you are adding complexity to the communication process." This is generally true, when a message goes through a large number of people, the chances are higher that the message will get mixed up. The SMS plan will cut through the different nodes and enable the MTA to get information and then inform commuters right away. By doing so, commuters are able to get information- current information- as it happens.
Like other proposals, our plan does not come without drawbacks. These drawbacks include:
- Cost. The cost of having wireless signal routed underground, to enable the use of text messages in subway tunnels will most likely discourage some commuters. Since a project like this will run about $300 million (to provide all subway tunnels/areas with service), we are quite sure that there will be a big group of New Yorkers who may feel that the money can be used elsewhere. In addition, providers themselves might be too hesitant to invest in such a project.
- Anti-cell phone sentiments. In an informal poll conducted by Straphangers Campaign, 54.8 percent of New Yorkers opposed installing wireless signals in the subway tunnels. People are generally not receptive to cell phones for many reasons. First, no one enjoys overhearing another person's conversation. Second, those ring tones can be quite annoying. And last, some are concerned about possible health risks related to cell phones.
- Alienation. Not everyone has access to technology, whether it is a cell phone or a computer. As a result, there may be some who will resent the fact that they are not "in the know." However, this can be solved if a) technology becomes more affordable, and b) those with information are willing to share the information they acquire.
- Vice-versa factor. What may be good for the general public can also be good for a specific group of people who may want to abuse the benefits of this plan to do horrible things. By increasing communication capabilities, we inherently increase the communication capabilites of not only commuters, but robbers, criminals, and possibly terrorists. They too can now have the means to coordinate a crime or attack.
There are also other factors to consider, factors which depends on one's own personal views. These factors include:
- Smart/Flash mobs. Smart and flash mobs depend on the ability to communicate with one another. Giving them the capability to communicate via text messages in the subway, is another way for them to coordinate future events/activities. As a result, New York City may see a growth in smart and flash mobs. Some may enjoy them while others may view them as an inconvenience.
- Privacy. Commuter profiles and weblogs will no doubt help establish friendships or, at least, acquaintances. By sharing private information about one's self, different situations can take place. As written, some may be open to meeting new people or getting to know "familiar strangers." Others may be more hesitant, worried about invasion of privacy or stalking.
- Time. For this plan to be successful, it will require the effort, involvement, and participation of commuters. Just how much time a commuter will give this plan is unknown.
This the third and final installment. Thank you for your time.