OneBlink Blog

Mobile phones get us into all manner of troubles. In Barcelona, smart city extraordinaire, you hope that they'll also help you to get out of them.

The trouble started with our late evening arrival into Barcelona airport. Down in the rental car parking garage I left my bags for a few moments with my genial travelling companion and fellow nerd (who will remain nameless to save his embarrassment) and "voosh" my hand luggage disappeared as abruptly as Zaphod Beeblebrox stealing the Heart of Gold. My companion's focus on his email had disabled his focus on our bags. Easily done and a lesson for us all about interacting with the real world as well as the virtual.

Leaving aside the fact I had no tracking device active on my bag or on any equipment in there, being in Barcelona airport I was confident that technology would come to our rescue or at least make the exercise of reporting and moving on quite simple.

But I was wrong.

A time warp exists in Barcelona (Worlds Smartest City and Mobile World Capital) Airport, and I walked into it, Just one door labelled Police and Airport Security (or words to that effect) separates a confident, low friction future from the frustrating and inefficient past that we used to accept.

I was given a paper form to fill in to report the incident by charming part time translator, Luis, recently arrived from Cuba, who I got to know quite well over the next hour and a half. After I fillied it in, and after waiting 40 minutes for the previous client to be processed, Luis passed it to methodical but smiling police officer 1201 (number hashed to protect identity) to enter into the system with constant reference to Luis about detail.

With much discussion of location and exact time the report was finalised, my passport photocopied, the report printed in Spanish (reasonable but not so good for Australian insurers), signed and then photocopied for me. As I was processed others lined up to subject themselves to the same frustration.

Which leads me, after a rambling narrative, to what I'm hoping to learn at MWC17.

Clearly the problem wasn't with 1201, who was a delight and with whom I shared a handshake and numerous pleasantries along the way, but with a system crying out for transformation. Not just making the forms electronic, but rethinking how airport crime is reported and the presumably pervasive video data retrieved.

This process is still in its infancy in most organisations. Some "hero processes" have been improved but seldom transformed. Bringing together the technologies to do so is often a barrier. Apps, APIs, integration to existing systems, sensors, IoT, scanning, beacons, location services etc etc all play a part and expertise and confidence in bringing together these technologies is scarce and will remain so.

I see our mission in BlinkMobile to support our partners and customers by removing the friction of working with this raft of technologies by integrating leading products together around our core of app and API experience.

At MWC17 I'm looking for products that our customers could use with confidence to integrate into the transformational solutions they're planning to deliver on our platform. IoT sensors, hubs and networks, location products, and things that will spark my imagination for the future.

I know that if and when 1201 gets this sort of system his smile will be even wider (but conversely Luis the translator may be no longer required).

And my travelling companion, who to his credit spends more of his time looking up rather than at his phone, and I have learned not to let our interactions with reality be distracted by that seductive, always available, connection and entertainment pack available in our pockets.