The NSW Department of Transport probably owes the Prime Minister a case of beer for all the free publicity he has been giving about its public transport apps.
It seems like every time Mr Turnbull is at an event in Sydney – and this was happening long before he became PM – he is talking about the apps that delivered him to the venue on time.
For all of the frustration of Sydney’s long-suffering commuters, it is fair to say in the past two to three years the department has significantly lifted its game, and that it has made huge progress in its data innovation. This is true across most of the NSW Government.
The department is to push its data liberation efforts further, with the creation of a new Open Data Hub to engage with software developers and innovators with the next round of public transport data sets.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance is seeking advice from the app development community to shape its future data release frameworks, and to inform government as to what kinds of data is available.
“The NSW Government is already a leader in the open data space with more than 2 million downloads of our real time transport apps, but technical limitations have restricted access for the creation of more apps and new ideas,: Mr Constance said.
“We have more than 2,000 subscribers registered for static timetable data on the existing Transport Data Exchange (TDX), but this data and the infrastructure that holds it was built for our operators and planners,” he said.
“This has held us back and only allowed us to provide static timetable data to TDX subscribers – that is until now. With this investment we’re taking the next leap forward by opening up our data channels for the wider app development community and for customers.”
The proof of concept original for the TripView app for the Department of Transport was developed through a hackathon process, and the department has kept its close links to the developer community as the government has refined and broadened its data strategy.
It is now taking the next step in releasing more data in more sophisticated real-time formats to a potentially wider set of developers. By liberating the data, Mr Constance expects a further round of software innovation – either through functionality or user experience.
Either way, the data strategy is central to government planning these days.
“The applications for this transport data are endless and will encourage innovation and ‘outside the box’ thinking that the app development community brings to the table,” he said.
“To make sure we get the execution right, we’re asking for advice from app developers to tell us what data should be made available and help build the new Open Data Hub.”
App developers will still need to satisfy privacy and use conditions in order to receive data from Transport for NSW.
Any data made available will be secure, private, and de-personalised including real time train, bus, ferry, light rail and selected Opal travel pattern data.