Making Good Use of Transit Data

Photo by Foxymoron.

This weekend, the Desarrollando América Latina Hackathon will take place across six countries: Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The event focuses on solving social problems using web applications and public data. The goal of the event is to create innovative solutions to problems across education, public safety and budget—theme areas identified and selected by civil society organizations and governmental actors. The event will take place on December 3 and 4, where web developers will convene for 30 consecutive hours to find digital solutions to social problems. Connected by video conferencing, developers will be organized in teams representing their respective countries.

Transportation is among the regional problems developers will tackle during the hackathon event. In fact, one example of how transportation systems can improve with the use of open data comes from Development Seed’s work with mapping transit data in Ayacucho, Peru. We previously wrote about Development Seed’s mapping work here, here, here and here. For this project, the company created maps of the public bus routes in Ayacucho, making otherwise inaccessible data files available to the public in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Mapping transportation-specific data can be a tremendous source of information for city planners, especially in helping them understand commuter behavior, as well as areas of a city that need better or more frequent service. “Looking at just transit data, it’s now possible to assess city traffic, identify where traffic lights are needed, and simply show tourists how to get to the best local restaurants,” says Ian Ward of Development Seed. “New information can be cataloged, such as intersections with heavy pedestrian traffic, allowing city planners to better direct changes and new traffic and pedestrian signals.” Even if the data’s visualization simply points to long-held belief of certain transport behavior, such maps can at least clearly identify the behavior and become a concrete basis for educated policy.

Below is an interactive map of Development Seed’s Ayacucho transit map. Explore the routes by zooming in and out, and panning across the map.

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