Published on September 22, 2014
Open Transit Data – An App Developer’s Perspective Sean J. Barbeau, Ph.D. Center for Urban Transportation Research | University of South Florida
2 Overview • Why Open Data? • Being Developer-Friendly • Filling the Gaps
3 What is open data? • Transit data that is shared with the public – Typically shared via website/FTP site/web services – Should be updated regularly, with any changes in schedule/routes/stops
4 Why is open data important? • Allows public to contribute services that are cost/time-prohibitive for the public sector – e.g., many mobile platforms • Vendors are unpredictable – When Apple dropped Google Maps in 2012, iPhone users lost transit directions – Apple relied on 3rd party apps to fill the gap • Only possible if open data was available
5 Successful Open Data Formats Are… • Organic – Created and improved by the people actually producing and consuming the data • Open – Open process for evolution – Data/documentation not hidden behind log-ins • Easy-to-use for app developers – Is documentation simple to understand? – Are there existing open-source software tools? – Is data provided via best practice web service design (e.g., using RESTful API with JSON, instead of SOAP with XML)? For more on open data technical examples, see “Open Transit Data – A Developers Perspective,” CUTR Webcast - http://bit.ly/CUTRWebcastOpenTransitData, 2013 APTA TransITech - http://bit.ly/TransITech-Open-Transit-Data
6 General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) • Created by TriMet and Google in 2005 • Has become a de facto standard world-wide for static transit schedule/route/stop data • GTFS-realtime counterpart for real-time data GTFS data consists of multiple text files GTFS data powers Google Transit and other apps
7 General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) • Over 500 agencies worldwide have transit data in GTFS format – 49 of top 50 largest U.S. transit agencies share GTFS data, over 227 worldwide – At least 20 Canadian agencies share open data • Most agencies created GTFS data for Google Transit – But, GTFS is open-data format used by web/mobile apps, OpenTripPlanner, OneBusAway, etc. • See “GTFS Data Exchange” for list of agencies with GTFS data – http://www.gtfs-data-exchange.com/ – Or, ask your local agency  City-Go-Round, http://www.citygoround.org/, Dec. 4, 2012  For more GTFS info and references, see paper co-authored by Sean Barbeau and Aaron Antrim – “The Many Uses of GTFS Data” - http://goo.gl/asR96
8 Promoting app development with open data BEING DEVELOPER-FRIENDLY
9 Create a relationship with developers • Open your GTFS data, and share on GTFS-Data-Exchange! – GTFS data should not be password or login protected • Share real-time data too (national list pending) • Create a “Developer page” with access to resources (e.g., GTFS license, data) • Create developer email list/group for announcements/Q&A/collaboration • Announce resources on “Transit Developers” group HART Developer page - http://www.gohart.org/developers/  Transit Developers group, https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/transit-developers, Dec. 4th, 2012
11 Get the word out! • After developers have created mobile apps, share them with riders • Consider an “App Center”[1-9] to showcase apps  TriMet "TriMet App Center." http://trimet.org/apps/  BART "Third Party Apps." http://www.bart.gov/schedules/appcenter/  MTA "App Center." http://www.mta.info/apps/  CTA "App Center." http://www.transitchicago.com/apps/  GoTriangle. "App Center." http://www.gotriangle.org/developers/transit_apps  HART "App Center." http://www.gohart.org/developers/appcenter.html  MBTA "App Center." http://www.mbta.com/rider_tools/apps/  KCATA "App Center." http://www.kcata.org/maps_schedules/app_center/  UTA"App Center." http://developer.rideuta.com/DeveloperApps.aspx
12 These practices lead to great apps! The Transit App Citymapper Moovit Embark NYC OneBusAway • Cities with strong third-party app support – San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New York • For more open data-powered apps and specific best practices for creating/maintaining GTFS data: – “The Many Uses of GTFS Data”, APTA TransITech 2013. Presentation - http://bit.ly/Z8VWJZ, Paper - http://goo.gl/asR96 – “Web-based Trip Planner Options for Transit Agencies,” CUTR Webcast - http://bit.ly/TripPlannerOptionsWebcast, Report - http://bit.ly/TripPlannerOptionsReport
13 ^ These practices lead to great apps! • But…what if they don’t? • Some cities don’t have the high-tech transit ridership to attract third-party developers • Open data is still very important • Agencies can get involved with open-source projects to fill the gaps • In-house, or via consultants/vendors • e.g., OneBusAway.org, OpenTripPlanner.org For more open data-powered apps and specific best practices for creating/maintaining GTFS data: - “The Many Uses of GTFS Data”, APTA TransITech 2013. Presentation - http://bit.ly/Z8VWJZ, Paper - http://goo.gl/asR96 - “Web-based Trip Planner Options for Transit Agencies,” CUTR Webcast - http://bit.ly/TripPlannerOptionsWebcast, Report - http://bit.ly/TripPlannerOptionsReport
14 OneBusAway – Real-time info Android iPhone Windows Phone & Windows 8 Available: Seattle, Tampa, Atlanta, New York (Bus Time), York Region CA, Washington, D.C. (beta), Bear Transit, CA (beta)
15 Conclusions • Open data (e.g., GTFS) makes transit apps possible • Being developer-friendly encourages mobile app development! • Open-source solutions allows agencies to cost-effectively fill the gaps
16 Thanks! Sean J. Barbeau, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org 813.974.7208 Principal Mobile Software Architect for R&D Center for Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida • For more GTFS info and references, see paper co-authored by Sean Barbeau and Aaron Antrim – “The Many Uses of GTFS Data” - http://goo.gl/asR96
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