Article by Professor Trine Tornøe Platz
No one likes queues. Worse still, according to research, our current queuing systems are inefficient time wasters. In their 2015 paper, published in the Review of Economic Design, Professor Lars Peter Østerdal and Assistant Professor Trine Tornøe Platz from the University of Southern Denmark suggested that the fastest queuing system involves serving the person at the back of the queue first. Now, this might sound like a suggestion that heralds the end of the word! However, digging deeper into the paper points to the real reason why how we queue today is inefficient. Our current queueing systems incentivise arriving early and waiting. In doing so, we waste more of the customer’s time. In other words, what we need are queuing systems that better manage our time. What we need is a just-in-time queue management system (QMS).
Time is precious and the way to save the most time is to queue just in time to be served. Today, the concept of the just-in-time queueing system is a reality thanks to the ubiquitous presence in our lives of mobile phones that allow use to simply download a queue app, such as WhyQ, and join SMS virtual queues. The benefits of such a QMS is that it saves time. We can go about our lives as we wait to be alerted that we are ready to be served. Thus, per research, we are rewarded not for arriving early and waiting, but by arriving when we need to arrive.