Two transport applications – GM Bus Times and NextBus

Ric Roberts from Swirrl has saved me some typing (thanks, Ric!) by writing about two Greater Manchester transport related applications that have come out the Lovely Data hack days.

You should read Ric’s article for more details on the data and API that the applications use, but here’s a quick summary of them.

GM Bus Times

Developed by Ben Gibbs, GM Bus Times is a site that lets you quickly select a Greater Manchester bus route, shows the stops for that bus route on a map, and provides the times for when the next bus is due at a particular bus stop.

Chart showing screen shots from GM Bus Times

One thing in particular I like about the GM Bus Times site is that I can bookmark a web page that will give me the bus times for a specific bus service at a specific bus stop. Very useful for people like me who tend to get the same bus to work from the same stop.

Though the GM Bus Times site was developed quickly as part of the Lovely Data hack days, it does show how bus timetable information can be accessed in a more immediate way by building applications and sites that use open data that’s in machine-readable (and therefore “programmable”) formats, rather than static documents on a website.

I would love it if the GM Bus Times site could be optimised for mobile phones. 🙂

NextBus

Developed by David Bamber, NextBus (open the link on a smartphone for best results!) is a mobile web app quickly developed to demonstrate how using location services on smartphones – Android phones, iPhone and the like – can help find bus stops near where you are right now and then tell you what buses are due.

Chart showing screen grabs from NextBus

Like GM Bus Times, NextBus shows an alternative way of accessing bus time information. By using open data and the capabilities of modern phones, you can quickly find out when your bus is due when you’re out and about.

Do you have any feedback on these apps or the ideas shown in them? Please leave a comment below or contact the developers directly.


Lovely Data #2 – Environment, Health and Transport hack day @ FutureEverything 2011, 14 May 2011

Following the first successful transport hack day in April, FutureEverything is running the second in the series of MDDA’s sponsored Lovely Data open data hack days.

This event will be focusing on investigating data and building applications around Environment, Health and also Transport data again so that ideas developed from the first hack day can be continued.

Where and when?

The hack day will be taking place as part of the FutureEverything 2011 festival at 4 Piccadilly Place near Manchester Piccadilly Train Station. Go to the visitor information page on the FutureEverything website for transport links.

The hack day will start around 9.30am and carry on throughout the day until around 6pm.

Who’s it for?

If you are a developer, designer, artist, journalist or just interested what lies beneath the huge datasets that chart Greater Manchester’s health and environment then this is for you.

We’d like you to share your ideas, play with the data, build cool applications that show off your skills, and give feedback on how public data can be improved.

You’ll learn more about Data GM – the open data catalogue for Greater Manchester – and give feedback on how it can be improved.

You don’t need to be a super geek to get something out of the day (though super geeks are always welcome!). If you’ve got a great idea you can team up with someone who’s got some coding skills.

What you’ll need to bring

Ideas and an interest in finding out more!

A computer you can create, design and / or code stuff on.

Not a programmer? Bring a computer or mobile anyway and you can help with research on the day or testing the websites and things that people make from your ideas.

Some projectors will be available, but please bring your own VGA adapter if you want connect.

What we’ll bring

Coffee, connectivity, a cool venue at the heart of the FutureEverything Festival and maybe some pizza.

Register to attend

The event is free to attend, but registering on the Eventbrite the page for the hack day will help us figure out how many people plan to attend.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or email Alan Holding at MDDA.

Lovely Data is funded by the Smart-IP project. The Smart-IP project will develop open innovation pilots in Manchester, Ghent, Cologne, Bologna and Oulu around the themes of Smart Environments, Smart Engagement and Smart Mobility. In Manchester we will be developing new services and products around the first two of these themes, and will be engaging with the local developer community and with citizens to ensure they can benefit the widest community. The project is led by Manchester City Council and part-funded by the European Union’s Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.


Hacking in progress

The Lovely Data Transport Hack Day is up and running.

Attendees at the Lovely Data Transport Hack Day

Around 20 people are here already working on hacks and projects.


About the event sponsors BCS Manchester branch

The Lovely Data Transport Hack Day is sponsored by the Manchester branch of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

BCS Manchester Branch

At BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, their mission is to enable the information society. They promote wider social and economic progress through the advancement of information technology science and practice.

They bring together industry, academics, practitioners and government to share knowledge, promote new thinking, inform the design of new curricula, shape public policy and inform the public.

Find out more about the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, at www.bcs.org and www.bcsmanchester.org.uk.


Format of the Transport Hack Day

With one day to go before the first Lovely Data hack day, I thought I should post something about the format of the day.

As I’ve never run a hack day before I’m not sure if this is the super correct way of doing things, but we can always change things on the day, right?

So, here’s the plan at the moment. (If you need a reminder of what the day is about and where and whens, then please read the main post about the Transport Hack Day.)

  • 10.30am-ish to 11am-ish: Overview from me of the day, and calls from people who want help with their programming and / or transport projects – more on that in this post about calls for help
  • 11am-ish to 1pm-ish: I’ll shut up and you can start coding, designing, talking, networking, blogging, tweeting or asking questions.
  • 1pm-ish: Lunch. It’s not a break so you can just grab some food and carry on hacking if you want to.
  • 1pm-ish to 4pm-ish: More coding, designing, talking, networking, blogging, tweeting or asking questions.
  • 4pm-ish to 5pm-ish: Show and tell. If you’ve done something during the day you’d like to show to everyone who’s still around, we’ll have a show and tell session to end of the day. If you want to demo stuff to smaller groups before that, I’m not going to stop you. 🙂
  • 5pm-ish close: That’ll be it and we can have a well-earned cup of tea. Or something stronger.

That sound OK?


Transport Hack Day, 9 April 2011

Lovely Data banner

Do you have ideas on how to improve public transport and travel information in Manchester?

Are you a developer or designer who wants to build great applications using public transport data?

Do you work in local government and want to know more about Open Data at a practical level?

Do you just want to get your hands on lots of Lovely Data?

Lovely Data is a series of Open Data hack days sponsored by Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) – part of Manchester City Council – and run in partnership with Open Data ManchesterDataGMFutureEverything and the Manchester Digital Laboratory (MadLab). Read more about Lovely Data.

The theme of the very first Lovely Data, taking place on Saturday 9 April 2011, is Transport.

We’d like you to share your ideas, play with public transport data sets, build cool applications that show off your skills, and give feedback on how public data can be improved.

You’ll learn more about the Data GM – the open data catalogue for Greater Manchester – and give feedback on how it can be improved.

You don’t need to be a super geek to get something out of the day (though super geeks are always welcome!). If you’ve got a great idea you can team up with someone who’s got some coding skills.

Where and when

The Lovely Data Transport Hack Day will take place on Saturday 9 April 2011, from 10.30am to 5pm at the MadLab in city centre Manchester.

The MadLab is at 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester, M4 1HN. Here’s a map on OpenStreetMap and a map on Google.

Teas, coffees and lunch will be provided.

Please note that the MadLab will also be hosting a writer’s group meeting in the afternoon, so please be prepared to move around a bit to accommodate them.

What you’ll need to bring

Ideas on improving public transport data! They’re always good.

A computer you can create, design and / or code stuff on.

Not a programmer? Bring a computer or mobile anyway and you can help with research on the day or testing the websites and things that people make from your ideas.

Some projectors will be available, but please bring your own VGA adapter if you want connect.

Register to attend

If you want to attend, please go to the Transport Hack Day page on Eventbrite and sign up.

Any questions?

Leave a comment below and Alan Holding at MDDA (that’s me!) will do his best to help.

Spreading the word

The more people come to this event, the better it will be and the more open data hack days we’ll be able to do in the future.

It’d be really great if you could tell people about this event, link to this blog, and use the Twitter hashtag #lovelydata when tweeting about it.

Thanks! 🙂