TfNSW Open Data & Innovation in 2020
It’s been a huge year for the Open Data & Innovation team at Transport for NSW. We’ve had over 50 data releases, 3 innovation challenges, and over 100 guests at our Open Data Day celebrations! Before we sign off for 2020, here are our highlights from the year that was.
2020 is a year that has been like no other. The effects of the global pandemic have been felt far and wide, with government agencies in Australia and all over the world needing to quickly adapt.
In order to help public transport passengers in NSW maintain social distancing on trains and buses, a selection of our endorsed transport apps began displaying safe capacity loads in March. They display real-time information on capacity and when physical distancing can and can’t be safely observed.
This information shows which vehicles have space available (1/3 people icon), have limited space (2/3 people icon) or when physical distancing cannot be observed (3/3 people icon), giving our customers more information so they can decide whether to wait for another bus or train service.
This ‘jelly baby’ system is a world leading concept which was developed by Transport for NSW in 2016, before being used to support physical distancing on public transport services in this way in 2020.
In March we again celebrated International Open Data Day, an annual celebration of open data all over the world. With 2020 marking its tenth year, groups from around the world created local events to celebrate the use of open data in their communities, showing the benefits of open data and encouraging the adoption of open data policies in government, business and civil society.
The Transport for NSW Open Data and Innovation team, in conjunction with the NSW Department of Customer Service Data.NSW Team and Information and Privacy Commission NSW, supported and celebrated Open Data Day by hosting a pitch competition event.
We wanted to see how our open data had been used to provide a better customer service or outcome.
Nine pitchers demonstrated their work and ideas on existing open data to be in the chance for prizes. 100 attendees from the innovation and transport communities came to watch 9 teams vie for 3 prizes.
Our three winners were:
Best customer focused product using NSW Open Data: Public Transport Mobile App in Different Languages by Bernice Xiaodan Zhang
Best pitch: The Government Geotechnical Report Database (GGRD) Project by John Greenfield
People’s Choice: TrainMate by Alberto Camillo
Thanks to her impressive pitch at the event, Bernice and her business partner Kenny Hoi Chung Lam were invited to incubate their app, aimed at removing language barriers for non-English speaking commuters, through the Open Data & Innovation App Developer Program.
By October, the Next Station app was officially endorsed by Transport for NSW, and is now available on both Apple and Google Play Stores for download as well as a web app - nextstation.app. It currently supports a fully translated experience in English, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, with more languages to be added in the future.
Our first #InnovationChallenge of 2020 was the Waverley Transport Innovation Challenge, run in collaboration with Waverley Council. The aim of the challenge was to tackle congestion in the Waverley Local Government Area, so we asked innovators to provide convenient mobility options that customers want.
A number of applications were received, with 8 shortlisted for Pitch Day, from which 2 were selected to incubate and trial their products: Moovit and Swiftfare Wave.
Wave by Swiftfare is a multi-modal trip planning app for both iPhone and Android that incorporates gamification to change consumer behaviour, with a goal of increasing the utilisation of designated Pick Up Drop Off (PUDO) Bays in Waverley along with promotion of local businesses.
Moovit, an existing global multi-modal trip planner application (iPhone & Android), trialled new features including the integration of PUDO bays into the app. Both apps will continue with their 12 month trials into 2021.
Our second innovation challenge of 2020 was the Parking Innovation Challenge, aimed at improving the customer experience with relation to parking.
Two challenge statements were posed:
Can you create a safe, frictionless digital solution for drivers to better understand parking information at their desired location and when planning a trip?
Can you effectively ‘map’ or create a digital representation of on street parking and traffic rules that can be published as Open Data?
We received many great entries from a variety of innovators, both local and global. Three proposed solutions were chosen to progress to the incubation stage and are planning for release in January 2021.
In November, we launched the Make Data Great Innovation Challenge, in which we asked, “How might you provide tools, technology or views of data to improve the data consumer’s experience when using the Open Data Hub?”
The challenge was aimed at helping our data consumers to easily find, understand, view and use data that we have published on the Open Data Hub. We had over 120 attendees at the virtual Information Session held on Nov 25th. Applications closed on December 7th, with selected teams progressing to pitch day on December 16th. Chosen solutions will be implemented by April 2021, so stay tuned!
In December, detailed information about short platforms was made available in the Sydney Trains GTFS bundle and Trip Planner APIs on the Open Data Hub, allowing third party apps to display to customers which carriages they are able to alight from!
This year we’ve also refreshed our Innovation Challenge pages to include some awesome new content, such as more information about the innovation challenge process, details about our App Developer Program, and case studies from past challenges.
We added two brand new categories to the Open Data Forum - the Events category features public transport, mobility and open data-related webinars, while the Fun Facts category features bite sized pieces of transport data on various topics.
It’s also been a great year for our open data community, with over 200 new and updated topics on the Open Data Forum.
On Twitter, our following has grown more than 24% from 949 in January, perhaps in part due to our series of Endorsed App Infographics which were shared throughout the second half of 2020. Each one features bite-sized info about some of the best features of each of our endorsed travel apps and learner driver log book apps.
Throughout 2020 we published several blog posts on a range of topics, from open data basics to tips for delivering a good pitch, government open data around the world to our Waverley Innovation Challenge trials.
Our favourite part of 2020? The huge amount of new and updated data we were able to release! One of our most exciting data releases of 2020 was the translation/transliteration of every TfNSW stop and wharf into 12 key languages, along with NSW suburb names. This release is invaluable in improving the capability of third-party app developers to support languages other than English.
This data improves predictive capability for occupancy levels where real time occupancy data is unavailable, helping to provide a more consistent customer experience within transport apps.
All in all it’s been an incredible year for new data, with our team publishing a whopping 62 sets of new & updated data onto the Open Data Hub for use by anyone, anywhere!
And that’s a wrap! Thanks to our app developers, open data users, innovation challenge applicants, Open Data Day attendees and general community for helping us to make this year our greatest yet.
See you in 2021!