A regulatory agency, overseeing vehicle-for-hire service in the metropolitan St. Louis region, manages its critical data with FileMaker Pro 7
Regulating St. Louis’ taxicab and vehicle-for-hire industry, the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission efficiently oversees the operation of more than one hundred licensed companies and thousands of professional drivers. The imperative to manage critical data concerning area employers, vehicle fleets, and drivers is chiefly focused on enhancing safety and promoting operational efficiency. A powerful FileMaker Pro 7 database system enables the Commission’s small staff to access, analyze, organize, and execute various facets of their operation to the benefit of industry members, residents, and visitors alike.
Business ChallengeThe Metropolitan Taxicab Commission was created in 2003 by State Resolution, at which time the city and county of St. Louis ceded regulatory authority to the new agency under the terms of a new Vehicle for Hire Code. “One of the first major issues was dealing with the collection of data for licensing,” recalls Enforcement Agent/IT Manager Drew Barker. “Of the various licensing activities and functions, licensing the drivers was uppermost on the list.” That complex process would require the collection, organization, and storage of comprehensive data on each driver, as well as photographs for identification purposes.
Faced with the challenge of creating a unique database system from inception, Commission members focused on the search for an appropriate software application. “An associate of the Commission’s general counsel relies on FileMaker Pro to manage his family business,” Drew continues. “He presented a demonstration advocating the selection of FileMaker Pro for our licensing operation, which earned the Commissioners’ endorsement; he was then hired to undertake the development of what became our first FileMaker Pro database.”
Successful SolutionThe original system developed by the Commission’s associate began with a Drivers’ Database containing information on the licensing and documentation of individual taxicab drivers. This database contained detailed personal information about each driver, including a current photograph and record of performance-related actions which affect license status.
Alongside that database, another separate database documented and tracked the holders of ‘Certificates of Convenience and Necessity,’ the certification that authorizes a taxicab company to operate vehicles for hire within the city and county of St. Louis. Supplementing both main databases were two others: an Inspection database containing data about each vehicle licensed to each company, and an Activity database documenting the Commission’s ongoing enforcement activities.
The original system was constructed in FileMaker Pro 6, but with the advent of FileMaker Pro 7, developer Mark Richman of Skeleton Key oversaw the migration of the system into the new version. “Converting the files was fairly painless,” he comments, “chiefly a drag- and-drop procedure. There were a few minor issues concerning the differences in FileMaker Pro 7, such as how and when records are committed, but these were easily identified and addressed with a careful review and testing of database functionality after conversion. The hardest task, honestly, has been pacing ourselves in making all of the modifications that FileMaker Pro 7's new features allow us to explore, such as consolidating files and enabling Windows authentication for our security model.”
Customer BenefitsIn its original version, the Commission’s database system provided effortless access to vital data, lending speed and efficiency to what could have been tedious paper bound tasks. With the upgrade to FileMaker Pro 7 speed and efficiency has increased to significantly higher levels. “We’ve seen noteworthy improvements in speed and implementation,” Drew declares. “So many new features of FileMaker Pro 7 exceed the capabilities of FileMaker Pro 6. For example, the maximum file size is much greater – which is very important, since with our ever-expanding driver database was nearing FileMaker Pro 6’s maximum capacity. As we grow, it’s critical that our database maintains pace with that growth.”
Commission Director Mike Tully adds enthusiastically, “the transition to FileMaker 7 has facilitated our ability to extract information for my monthly reports to the Commissioners.”
FileMaker Pro 7 also enhances development efficiency. “One particularly useful new feature,” notes Mark, “especially considering that we had a short timeline for performing the conversion before making it available to the users, was the ability for us to work on the file structure -- the tables, fields, layouts, and relationship graph -- while the file was in use. This allowed us to correct problems and add enhancements without having to log out connected users, thus changes we implemented were available to the users as they were working . We even consolidated some files, migrated data among tables and edited the relationship graph to reflect the consolidation, all in real-time, without as much as a hiccup from the users' perspective.”
Small wonder, then, that the Commission remains fully committed to its choice of FileMaker Pro 7. “Of course, opportunities to consider other solutions have arisen,” Drew acknowledges, “but we’re extremely confident with our decision: that FileMaker Pro is the best available product to fulfill our unique needs, now and into the future. We have carefully considered the well-established reputation of the company and the permanence of its products, and have evaluated the overall features and capabilities of FileMaker Pro 7 such as its platform compatibility and expansion capacity, and we believe that no other platform favorably compares.”
“Converting the files was fairly painless, chiefly a drag-and- drop procedure…The hardest task, honestly, has been pacing ourselves in making all of the modifications that FileMaker Pro 7's new features allow us to explore, such as consolidating files and enabling Windows authentication for our security model.”
Mark Richman, FSA Developer, Skeleton Key
Contact Info for Customer:Drew Barker
Enforcement Agent/IT Manager
Metropolitan Taxicab Commission