Across the world, the importance of public transportation data is finally being understood. Such initiatives such as the United States Department of Transportation’s plan to develop a National Transit Map, in addition to a proposed law in France to require public transportation providers to open their data underscore the fact that this is the next area of growth in the Open Data movement, towards the growth of Smart Cities.
In the Western French City of Rennes, the STAR public transportation network operated by Keolis Rennes is a pioneer in open transportation data. Its portal provides real-time datasets on such information as the next passages of the metro lines, the position of the city buses, and availability of city bikes. What is unique about this portal is the ease in which all of these data can be understood. In many open transportation data projects, open APIs are available, which require a high degree of technical expertise to understand and reuse.
In Rennes, the Open Data portal has tools to automatically view and reuse the data, either in tables, maps, or in graphical form. Thus, researchers looking into correlations between transportation access and employment can analyze the data, at the same time as developers looking to build new services around the transportation data to improve accessibility to existing networks. All actors in a community can benefit from these extremely high-value data.
In addition, any of these data visualizations can be easily shared and embedded across the web. This means that they can be reused in compelling dashboards containing other such information as air quality and weather, for citizens to use. This provides extremely clear and compelling uses of the Smart City to help reap its promised benefits.
Keolis Rennes’ approach to Open Data adds clear value to its community; it is more transparent and provides essential resources to improve access to its network. In addition, with the data more accessible, a greater diversity of voices involved in fighting various social issues tied into transportation can participate, and thus work towards improving their communities. Open transportation data are great, but we need to make sure that they are made available at their greatest potential.