Building your City’s Mobile and Web-based Journey Planner

Three directions to choose from

Many cities in the world need digital public transportation solutions: a World Bank study estimated for the year 2015 that 35% of the world’s largest cities and 92% of the largest cities in low and middle-income countries, do not have complete transit maps for planning or passenger information. This is currently undergoing a rapid change with new technologies. A lot of cities have started planning or implementing digital systems around public transportation data and services. One of the primary uses of technology in public transportation is to provide a passenger information system, or transit navigator or journey planning apps. This article gives a quick overview of the options cities have to successfully create one. Without reinventing the wheel – which would be a bad idea anyway – cities have three general directions they can choose from.

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Now it is the time: Transit maps for everybody!

The simplest Open Source passenger information system.

OpenStreetMap's mobile application OsmAnd included recently time-less offline routing for public transportation in their Android version. This closes the gap of crowd-sourced mapping of public transport lines and stops to be provided directly as a useful digital tool that people can use - a minimal viable product made by and for a worldwide community of practice! Now, every single bus line, which has been put on OpenStreetMap becomes directly useful for everybody who just installs the OsmAnd application. This is a huge opportunity especially for the many cities in the world with a public transportation system, but without a map of it.

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Mobile applications for Nicaragua's public transport

How OpenStreetMap data was made available to people's smartphones

After the Nicaraguan OpenStreetMap community crowd-sourced with over 250 interested citizens the data of their capital's public transportation system in OpenStreetMap, a schematic paper map was created from this data. In a next step the community wanted to offer state-of-the-art routing applications to the visitors and inhabitants of Managua. For this, the data from OpenStreetMap was combined with also crowd-sourced schedule information by the Sofware tool osm2gtfs. The result is the common format for public transport data - GTFS -, which was then possible to include into existing applications, where the data can be used now...

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osm2gtfs, extendable for any city

Convert data from OpenStreetMap into GTFS

osm2gtfs is a community based initiative for the development of a versatil tool to convert data from OpenStreetMap about public transport, combine it with external schedule information in order to create a General Transit Feed (GTFS). The Software has been programmed by community members of Brasil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and France. Now osm2gtfs can be used without any programming skills, whenever using our defined input format. And, of course, with programming skills it is always flexibly extendedable to support any other city's particularities and sources for schedules.

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Digital Maps that make a change

Article about OpenStreetMap in the print magazine of the Austrian Scientific Exchange Service (OeAD News)

For the two students Taalaikul (15), Ulsana (16) and their teacher Kaiyrgul from the remote village of Jani-Talap, which lies on the edge of the roof of the world - on the Himalayas in the Tien Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan - water is the central theme. In the spring, the area is regularly flooded during the snowmelt, but after a few weeks, the wide river bed, which runs past the edge of the village, dries out for the rest of the year. The environment of the village appears dry and barren in summer, snowy in winter.

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Austrian Citizen Science Awards 2016

Giving a keynote speach at the ministry's award ceremony about "Missing Maps: Participation Technologies for Disaster Relief"

Austria's Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy organizes every year a national competition on Citizen Science. Mid of December 2016, the winners were awarded in the Festival Hall of the University of Vienna. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team was invited to give a talk about our work, and it was van honour to spread the word about Open Data for the good.

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Mapping the Tien Shan mountains

OpenStreetMap workshops with teachers and high school children of 10 rural villages in Kyrgyzstan

(Guest post by Aline Rosset, University of Central Asia) OpenStreetMap workshops with teachers and high school children of 10 rural villages in Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz Mountains Environmental Education and Citizen Science project aims at developing simple tools and activities for teachers to learn and conduct scientific investigations on the water resources around their village, and make the collected data publicly available.

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Geotechnology: a tool for innovation

Nicaragua’s experience with child and youth participation

Over the last couple of years several individuals of the Nicaraguan OpenStreetMap community MapaNica.net colaborated fruitfully in various ocations with UNICEF Nicaragua to experiment with participatory geotechnologies and children and adolsecents on the caribbean coast of the country. Jointly we created a publication about the systematization of processes carried out to empower girls, boys, adolescents and young people in the most vulnerable areas by the use and implementation of participatory technologies.

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The true geographers are in the buses

Passengers created the public transportation map of Managua

When there is no map for the 1670 kilometers of metropolitan Managua’s public 45 bus lines network, there is only one thing you and anybody can do: Ask the people in the buses how to get from one point to another. The passengers of this complex - and naturally grown network within the capital - know most about it. And two years ago, a group of inhabitants of Managua by own initiative decided to take the feat and create the first bus network map in whole Central America.

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A logo for OpenStreetMap Nicaragua

Wide collaboration to find a common identity for a community

In preparation of new great things we are developing in the Nicaraguan OpenStreetMap community - and which I obviously don't want to spoil right now - we had a wonderful collaboration with Nicaragua's most progressive design studio NINFUS to create a better logo for the community. Together with the most active people in the community we went on several iterations until we came up with this proposal. The new logo looks really great and is much more practical than before, as this has less colours and works also in smaller scales.

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Case study: Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Implementation of a collaborative, crowd-sourced Geographic Information System for humanitarian aid and economic development

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is based on the principle that “free map data would be a tremendous benefit for humanitarian aid and economic development” and the main activity are the organization of activations of worldwide volunteers to collaborate all together over the OpenStreetMap platform to raise geographic data for disaster response after natural catastrophes (such as the recent Ebola outbreak 2014, the tsunami 2013 in the Philippines or the earthquake in Haiti 2010). This information is then freely available for everybody but in particular to organizations and government working in the field to safe people's life and improve the situation on the ground.

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Collaborative maps for social progress and education in Nicaragua

Free geodata technologies have been used to map the city of Bluefields Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCS) [of Nicaragua]. This initiative strengthened the capacities of local actors with respect to their knowledge of social mapping. It also involved the participation of children and adolescents, as well as students and teachers from the Bluefields Indian Caribbean University (BICU) and the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast (URACCAN), under the coordination of MapaNica (OpenStreetMap Nicaragua) with UNICEF support.

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A mapping thunderstorm in Bilwi

Crowdsourcing geo information at the Carribean Coast

Last week Porifrio and myself, as members of the OpenStreetMap Nicaragua community, traveled to Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas, the capital of the Autonomous Region of the Northern Caribbean Coast. The trip was made possible with the support by UNICEF Nicaragua, which we highly appreciate. We were for four days in Bilwi to present the OpenStreetMap Nicaragua initiative and build alliances with interested groups and institutions.

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State of the Map US

Presenting the initiatives of the Nicaraguan OpenStreetmap community

I had the honor to be invited and received a scholarship to attend and give a talk at the yearly edition of the State Of The Map US conference in beautiful San Francisco. A great community, with nice and interesting individuals and a very well organized, expiring conference made it all over a superb experience. It is remarkable that OpenStreetMap is a community project at an exploding point. A lot of innovation can be observed. The atmosphere of having fun with what people are doing is constantly present and a lot of start-ups and bigger companies are discovering business models, using Open Geo Data.

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#ManaguaMapping Party

Mapping the bus lines of Nicaragua's capital

At the first OpenStreetMap event in Managua the Mapertulia last December we initiated the idea of getting the information about bus lines in Managua mapped collaboratively. So we started now with a Mapping Party: A whole (sun)day beginning with an introductory session in the morning, then field work – mapping in the buses. After lunch another workshop about how to introduce the obtained information from the morning into OpenStreetMap, the wonderful world wide free and open map available for everybody to use or build upon it in any way. And in the afternoon coffee, fruit drinks, later some beers, sticking together and working, inserting the newly mapped bus lines into the global server.

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Southern geeks

Visiting Free Software communities in Bolivia

For the DrupalCamp Bolivia 2013 I had the opportunity to travel to Bolivia, and beeing there I wanted to meet some of the Free Software movements in this country. In the lovely city of Cochabamba I soon got contact to the Scientific society of the university of San Simón, some of the most active young people in town, when it comes to technology. Some of them volunteered in the DrupalCamp and talking to them, they invited me to their OpenSeason, a new and open event series they are organizing in their university about free and open software and tecnologies. I was very happy to meet those great tec people, rocking their little hacking space in the university. The Open Season was well visited and besides my two talks about OpenStreetMap and How to contribute to Debian, as well a new project was presented: The GNU/Linux distribution “Fosobi“, a new distro with local flavour that shall make it easier to start and therefore attractive to students of technical careers using GNU/Linux.

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The first Mapertulia

Community building around OpenStreetMap in Nicaragua

Because of the fortunate increasing interest in mapping in Managua, after some different activities, like the mapping party initiative we realized with some students in the Universidad Centroamericana to complete the information in OpenStreetMap used for the porpuse of this map I built for the Debian Conference 2012 and as well a talk I gave lately about Open Data, putting a focus on OpenStreetMap as the mayor example in the National Festival about Free Software this same month. I decided to propose a meeting about OpenStreetMap, so the first “Mapertulia“ was born. About 30 people showed up to know more about colabortive mapping and how to use open maps for their benefit.

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