NSW Transport and Infrastructure (NSWTI) is currently inviting expressions of interest for the design and development of a new smartphone application that will provide transport information to its passengers.
In March 2009, NSW transport body Cityrail threatened legal action against a software developer who came up with a Sydney train timetable program for Apple’s iPhone – Transit Sydney. Despite other similar programs on the market, Cityrail claimed the content was protected by copyright and not available for public use.
The state transport operator says it has recorded a steady increase in the number of hits on its 131500.com information website that come from mobile phones, which can peak to 50% at certain times of the day.
In a move that now clearly adheres to both Federal and state government’s agenda for more open and transparent data, it is looking for an innovative way to extend on the 131 500 website, that is more phone-friendly. It could include the automatic calculation of fares, the carbon footprint of various forms of public transport and an estimate of the kilojoules burnt by each option. NSWTI also entertains the option of providing SMS alerts about changes to transport condition.
It also suggests that an application could feature real time data on the whereabouts of trains, buses and ferries.
A real-time public transport application is not without precedent in Australia. Customers of Melbourne’s Yarra Trams have been able to download the tramTRACKER® app, which uses radio waves and beacons to locate the real-time position of any of its trams, and uses this information to calculate its precise arrival time at a given stop. This service can also be accessed through computer desktop widgets and by SMS.
The infrastructure is already in place to provide the real-time position of transport services. In 2008 the Roads and Traffic Authority implemented the Public Transport Information and Priority System (PTIPS), which integrated satellite technology with the agency’s traffic management system so that traffic signals can be made to give priority to late-running buses. All STA buses are equipped to take part in this scheme.
This initiative reflects the priorities of the Federal Government’s Government 2.0 agenda, which pushes what it calls a “citizencentric” approach to technology. One of the key themes of Government 2.0 is using technology as a means to engage with the public and improve access to information.
NSWTI specifies that it is only interested in mature products that are already in production elsewhere, and will not be offering any research and development grants.
Submissions to the EOI close Friday 28 May at 2 pm. Any inquiries can be emailed to ITIS_RFI2010@transport.nsw.gov.au.
For details on other ICT initiatives being undertaken by NSW Transport and Infrastructure, please see Intermedium’s NSWTI Agency Profile.