DOTC launches ‘Transit App Challenge’

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03:57 PM July 1st, 2013

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By: Matikas Santos, July 1st, 2013 03:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Every commuter’s nightmare is getting lost in the middle of the metropolis and not knowing which public transportation will convey them to their destination. Making matters worse are criminals waiting for unsuspecting and confused victims.

An app may soon change all that.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is launching an app development competition dubbed “The Philippine Transit App Challenge” that invites software developers to create apps which utilize the DOTC’s huge database on public transportation.

“We expect it to bring out a lot of innovation from software developers.  The goal is to create all sorts of apps which will make commuting in Metro Manila much more convenient,” DOTC spokesman Migs Sagcal said in a statement released Monday.

“The point is to empower the public with better decision-making abilities using our data.  This project stems from government’s effort to look at public service delivery from the viewpoint of the end-user, and to make commuting better for everyone,” Sagcal said.

For the competition, the DOTC is making available its Philippine Transit Information Service (PTIS) database, which contains information from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3), the Philippine National Railways (PNR), the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM).

The PTIS, which was previously not publicly available, will contain data regarding bus, train, and jeepney routes, and “live traffic incident data streams in both Metro Manila and Cebu City.”

The Philippine Transit App Challenge is set to be formally launched on July 2, Tuesday, and will be open to any developer or firm as long as one member must be a permanent resident of the Philippines.

The apps will be evaluated based on the following criteria: addresses the problem statement(s) and solves a real user’s needs, quality of user interface, technical and operational feasibility, economic and financial sustainability, creativity and innovation, use of Open Data, Open-Source code, and the agencies’ existing platforms, and public voting.

The developers with the best transit app will win P100,000. Other awards include the People’s choice app which will be decided through online voting.

The three-month long competition will be a “hack-at-home” event, allowing developers to “create apps at their own pace and on their own time, using the same datasets provided to them,” DOTC said.

In the final app, commuters should be able to see all available routes to a particular destination, how many transfers from one form of transportation to another they will take, and even the estimated travel time to get there.

Asked in a phone interview if the apps developed could help alleviate the traffic situation in Metro Manila, Sagcal said that the apps will focus mainly on helping commuters find their way better and not on easing traffic congestion.

“With traffic, that’s incidental, and anyway that’s already there, [the apps might] help with the traffic management aspects but mainly it’s to help passengers plan their trips better,” he said.

“They’ll be able to find out what their options are, which one is cheapest, fastest. The point really is passenger convenience,” Sagcal said.

Private-vehicle owners might also use the apps to see if they will be passing through jeepney routes

More details about the event are available on the competition’s official website, http://philippine-transit.hackathome.com/.

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