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Cities: Open Your Data to Spark App Development

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Michelle
Michelle  
1/24/2013 4:59:51 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: The bus
@Nicole It's not just in NYC. I live in a considerably smaller area and our bus schedules aren't so easily read. The routes are even a bit bizzare. Decoding the time/route schedules here takes a different midset for sure!

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
1/24/2013 4:38:36 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: The bus
Hi Nicole,

A number of transit apps for cities have real-time arrival times and mapping for buses. Not all cities have GPS on their buses or want to spend the money for the logistics for consumer use. However, it's becoming increasingly common. 

One possible problem with major cities like New York is GPS signals don't always work well when blocked by tall buildings. There are other methods besides GPS, but they often aren't as accurate and, of course, cost money to purchase and maintain.

As I was writing this, I was thinking whether some cities have bus positioning data for their own internal use, but don't offer it in public APIs. I don't know.

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
1/24/2013 4:26:55 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Metro Transportation Apps
Hi Michelle,

Public transportation systems often sell advertising, such as posters inside subways and buses and giant ads on the side of buses, but I haven't seen any ads for apps on those vehicles or in the stations. To be honest, though, I almost never look at any of those ads because I'm usually reading or listening to technology podcasts. So there could be giant posters for apps that I've never seen.

Yes, it would be a good idea for transportation systems to advertise their apps, although the two apps I noted for the Washington, D.C. area are from independent developers and it might not be appropriate or even legal for the transit authorities to advertise them. However, apps that are owned by the city certainly woul be advertised and cities also have sections on their Web sites for their mobile apps.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
1/24/2013 4:25:19 PM
User Rank Staff
The bus
I'm always on the subway in NYC, but I would be much more inclined to take the bus as well if I had a really clear and simple app that told me exactly where the bus was in real-time, when it would be coming, and when it would get me to my destination. I've never understood why bus timetables have to be produced in such a way that you need a degree in decoding in order to understand them (OK fine, it's not that difficult, but it's a pain!).

Michelle
Michelle  
1/24/2013 4:05:13 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Metro Transportation Apps
@Alan Does the transportaion system sell advertising? Perhaps it would be a good use of space to advertise mobile apps in and on trains. My guess is they're not doing this already since you ride often and had no idea an app existed.

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
1/23/2013 1:38:20 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Metro Transportation Apps
Hi Lesthertod,

Yes, if riders know about public transportation schedules and delays in real time they won't be as angry and will be able to plan their travel more efficiently.

Lesthertod
Lesthertod  
1/23/2013 12:45:29 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Metro Transportation Apps
Thanks Alan for such a great post.

 

The fact that cities develop real-time data and infraestructure in order to be able to liberate APIs in order to help the citizens to ease the stress and uncertainty that creates work, train delays and such. If we know what's going on it will be harder that we get angry. Another thing that I find marvellous is that the internet is becoming an essential service for us.

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
1/22/2013 4:38:36 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Metro Transportation Apps
Hi James@SanDiego,

Many cities have mass transportation apps, and the real-time tracking is certainly the best aspect. Also, as cities offer cellular and WiFi inside subway stations, users will be able to get real-time info. while they wait.

Not all cities have real-time tracking, unfortunately, and the official schedules for buses, subways, trains, etc. are often fiction compared to the actual arrival times! That's why real-time data is so useful.

However, the cost of GPS hardware is so inexpensive nowadays that more cities can afford it on buses, except that real-time tracking incurs more expenses than just the hardware.

James@SanDiego
James@SanDiego  
1/22/2013 4:30:30 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Metro Transportation Apps
Hi Alan,

It's amazing these days the things they have apps for.  With most metro apps, if you have your phone GPS turned on, the app can tell where you are, what station i is closet to you and feep you the time of arrival and so on.  I think most of the major cities have mass transportation apps for the iphone or android or windows phones these days.

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