Kochi Metro Rail Ltd became the first metro agency in India to adopt an open data approach on 16th March 2018 at the re-launch event of official website. Open Transit Data is published in hopes to improve access to Kochi Metro’s services.

Information on schedules, stops, routes, fares, etc. have been converted into the universally accepted General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) standard and is available on the new website of KMRL from today. The historic launch was done by Shri. Manoj Nair CEO, Smart City in the presence of Shri. A P M Mohammed Hanish, MD KMRL, Dr. O P Agarwal, CEO, World Resource Institute (WRI), India and Mr. Madhav Pai, Director, Sustainable Cities, WRI India.

Demonstration on what and how to access Open Data was presented at the occasion, where press and media were present.

WHAT IS OPEN TRANSIT DATA:

Information about public transport services like stop locations, fares, service timings, etc. are crucial for commuters to plan their trips to different parts of the city. To improve reliability, provide a seamless transport service and facilitate access to employment, education, healthcare and recreation, this information needs to be communicated very effectively by agencies. Open transit data refers to making this information accessible for anyone to use, re-use and redistribute freely. To be truly open, transit data must be converted into a format that can be directly read by algorithms and computer programs. A globally accepted standard called the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) is popularly used to represent transit data.

WHAT ARE ITS POTENTIAL IMPACT:

The progress of mobile telephony and the emergence of smart phones is changing how citizens access transport services in cities. Making transit data open can have a direct or indirect impact on commuters and inform effective planning by agencies. A few pointed benefits have been listed below.

  • Improving commuter experience

Making transit data open in a machine-readable format triggers an ecosystem where developers, entrepreneurs, data scientists and others build innovative applications that benefit commuters in different ways. Trip planning applications are immediate outcomes of open transit data. Using these applications, commuter can plan their trips more intelligently and can reduce waiting times thus increasing the uptake of public transport.

 

  • Improving access

Different commuter groups have different and very specific requirements. Addressing these requirements becomes important to improve access to the commuters with sensory or cognitive disabilities and elder commuters. The applications below were developed from open transit data to improve access to these groups of commuters

o   For people with disabilities: AccessWay (New York) is an app built on open transit data that helps visually impaired passengers to navigate their way through public transport. The app informs visually disabled passengers about their surroundings (like platforms, nearest exit, etc.) Blind Square is an app that was developed in Helsenki, Finland that functions in a similar manner

o   For older commuters: Applications like AgeCap give ratings to transit options that are age-friendly for older passengers. Such applications are built on open transit data and crowd sourced data. Trip planning applications especially help older commuters as they can adapt their commute plans according to the estimated time of arrival predictions

  • Increased economic and policy making capabilities

The importance of transit data goes beyond commuters and the agency. Transit data is used to assist in decision making in different spheres that might not be directly related to commuters. The examples below show how transit information is used to assess different parameters about the city. These applications contribute in increasing the economic value of different parts of the city and also feed into informed policy making

o   Apartment Search and Walk Score are two applications that rate the livability of an area based on different parameters including accessibility to different transit options. Mapnificient gives a visualization of different parts of the city that can be reached using public transport in a given amount of time

o   AllTransit is a very powerful application that uses transit data from different agencies and calculates the accessibility of different services (like jobs, health care centres, etc.) within a given duration of time. It also calibrates the equity of public transport by assessing the proximity of different parts of the city to transport bays

o   http://mbtaviz.github.io/ is s website that uses transit data to generate real-time visualizations of Boston’s public transport services and subway stations.

Visit website and explore: https://kochimetro.org/open-data/

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