Real-Time Transit Display: The First "Transit Appliance"

Weeels may be a “transit utility,” but Chris Smith from Portland Transport has debuted what he is calling the world’s first “Transit Appliance”.

Drawing upon a number of a variety of Open Source software components (including Linux), the Open Hardware “Chumby” platform, and public open data from Portland’s TriMet & NextBus, it can deliver real-time transit arrival estimates to a display in your home, coffee shop, library or, well, anywhere frequented by transit users. It would cost about $200 and require only a WiFi connection. 

This sounds like a really elegant and simple solution, inspiring for those of us looking for ways of building new ways to distribute information – and connect users – around transit. 

There’s one problem with using systems like this in outdoor spaces: these devices don’t last long in public, either because of vandalism or wear-and-tear. If that problem can be addressed – and I think it can – transit agencies around the country should consider adopting similar systems, which could eventually be a heck of a lot cheaper than the digital signage that the MTA has been using.

 via StreetFilms

Big Apps 2.0: NYC's Urban Data Challenge

NYC BigApps is back – with more data than you can shake an iPhone at. From Urban Omnibus:

The City of New York is hosting its second competition for web and mobile applications, NYC BigApps 2.0, to “increase government transparency and provide greater public access to city data.” Developers are invited to mine 350 data sets from NYC DataMine as the basis for apps that deliver information about various aspects of the city, ranging from education to transport, in a clear and creative manner. The organizers hope that the competition will help to provide “talented entrepreneurs with the tools to create new products. “We encourage the development of applications that can then be commercialized, spurring job growth and economic development in New York City,” says Deputy Mayor Steele in the competition press release. The submission period lasts through January 12 and winners will be announced in March. Get inspired to participate by browsing through the app gallery of last year’s winners — or by the $20,000 in cash prizes to be awarded this time around.