As Cop Block founder and Free Keene blogger Pete Eyre said months ago, “Cell 411 is about to become your favorite tool“. It was true then, and now it’s even more true. Cell 411 is a killer app for smartphones and it just got better. Until this week, it was the world’s premiere decentralized emergency alert app. As of yesterday, Cell 411 has added ride sharing!
Originally launched in August of 2015, Cell 411 has since been installed 85,000 times, worldwide. Its primary purpose is to connect people with their friends, family, and neighbors in any emergency situation, from being pulled over, to a fire, to medical emergency. At that it’s been an incredible success, and it’s free to use. Now, by adding ride sharing, Cell 411 has gone to the next level. They’ve decentralized ride sharing even moreso than UBER and Lyft and Cell 411 did it without a single dollar from investors or publicity in advance. For those who have been watching Arcade City – Cell411 has accomplished AC’s original vision while Arcade City’s app doesn’t even have ride sharing yet.
I’ve been a longtime supporter of Arcade City. Arcade City’s founder, Christopher David gave a great keynote speech at the 2015 Keenevention and is a blogger here at Free Keene. In its early days and through the summer I promoted AC on my radio show and became one of the top recruiters. However with the early September release of the current software, I was pretty bummed that ride-sharing was not included, and instead it was just a “game” involving earning and giving “karma points” to other people in the network. It didn’t make sense, especially since Arcade City already had ride-scheduling in their early 2016 app. Obviously the code from the first app could have been included in the September 2016 release and allowed drivers to get started giving people rides immediately.
Arcade City had succeeded in building incredible buzz by moving operations to Austin, TX after the city council there drove UBER and Lyft out of town with their control-freak regulations. They made a facebook group, (since their old app had been pulled from the Android and Apple stores at this point in anticipation of the September-released app) and attracted 30,000+ participants into the group! The Austin facebook group garnered a bunch of media and even a police raid of the Arcade City offices.
Drivers of UBER and Lyft were understandably interested in Arcade City, which promised an app that would truly decentralize ride sharing. The original vision Chris David had was to cut the corporations out of the picture. No longer would UBER and Lyft (and their imitators) be able to control the drivers. Drivers would be able to set their own rates as well as accepted payment methods – cash, bitcoin, credit card, silver, or whatever. This vision would bring a new level of competition to the transportation business, while making it even harder for governments to target those involved with regulation.
Sadly the app that Arcade City released in September had none of that vision in it. Instead, it told drivers they needed to unlock their cities by trading around arbitrarily given “karma points”. As participants in some very active areas somehow managed to “unlock” their city, it became clear that there was no ride sharing to unlock at all – another disappointment from Arcade City. Not only do potential drivers have to “unlock” their city, but then they have to organize a “constitution” for their city. While I understand the reason for having people organize a “constitution” (it sets standards and makes the drivers look more legit), I oppose requiring the constitution, as it makes AC more centralized, which is contrary to the original decentralized vision that got me excited originally. Having to team up with any local drivers to write some set of rules for their area is centralized, and having to have it approved by Chris or someone else with Arcade City is even more centralization. Sigh.
Who knows how long it will take Arcade City to actually get to allowing people to compete with UBER and the rest. I consider Chris David a friend and I respect what he’s done with being the visionary for decentralizing ride-sharing. I still hope AC works out in the long run, however new and unexpected competition in the form of Cell 411 just totally ate Arcade City’s lunch.
Cell 411 is everything Arcade City was supposed to be. It’s decentralized, free, allows the driver to set rates and choose payment types, and has ride-hailing, profiles and ratings. It’s all available NOW. No tokens needed. No waiting. No constitutions. No approvals.
Cell 411 is the biggest thing to happen to transportation since UBER. It works and will only get better. It’s free and super-useful. Don’t wait – just go download it (Ride sharing is active on Android now and will be active on iOS next week.) and share it with your family, friends, fellow cop-blockers and activists, and neighbors.
Also, kudos to Keene liberty activists for doing the first-ever, historic Cell 411 ride. It’s only natural that Keene, the place where Cop Block was founded, would be the location of the first truly decentralized ride share!