OC Transpo using pulled GPS bus data
Transit authority denied application builders access to same data in January
Bus-tracking information that OC Transpo said a month ago wasn't accurate enough to be given to outside developers is currently in use for monitors at stations like Billings Bridge, CBC News has learned.
OC Transpo had made its GPS data available to programmers as part of a pilot project, spurring developer Jonathan Rudenberg to build a smartphone application called Whereismybus.ca, which told riders when the next bus would arrive at their stop.
The data was pulled in January, when OC Transpo said the GPS data wasn't reliable enough to power user-built applications.
"It was not designed for that," said OC Transpo's General Manager Alain Mercier.
Rudenberg remains suspicious of OC Transpo's reasoning, and the transit authority's continued use of the data is not likely to temper that concern.
"It seems like they just used it as an excuse to shut down the feed for another reason," said Rudenberg.
Mercier, however, said Wednesday the organization is updating its GPS systems, and will roll out the new information in an orderly fashion.
'It's going to be public': Mercier
"Our customers demand and expect reliable information. We want to make that universal to everyone," Mercier told CBC News.
"It's going to be in the public. That's our goal," Mercier said.
Mercier did not say whether that means the information will be made available to application-builders, or whether it will simply just be displayed at bus stations and stops.
The decision whether or not to "open" the data to programmers will be made by city council.
Meanwhile, city staff is considering using the data to generate revenue. In a memo to the city's transportation committee, city staff said the GPS information could be used to generate advertising and sponsorship opportunities, and said giving it away for free to third parties could mean sharing potential revenue.
Developers want relationship with OC Transpo
Application builder Dave Gallant said OC Transpo should look to Toronto for ideas about how to handle its GPS data.
The Toronto Transit Commission recently held a one-day "Transit Camp" with local developers to foster cooperative projects between the two groups. Gallant said OC Transpo should do the same.
"It would give the development community a chance to understand the sort of grey areas, and issues that are relevant to OC Transpo," Gallant said.