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Greens formally request Action bus data under Freedom of Informations Act

By shneyney123 - 22 January 2011 10

Hey guys, this is the Imagine Team again. We just would like to thank you for all the support, and hope that any benefit we would get out of the aforementioned support we will pass on to you in the form of a usable Mobile bus timetabling application. Just as an update, the Greens have sympathized with our plight, and have released the following media statement:

“ACT Greens Transport spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, has today lodged a request under the Freedom of Information Act to have the ACT Government publicly release key location data for ACTION buses to enable ‘crowdsourced’ public transport apps.

“ACTION were recently approached by a group of young entrepreneurs who had designed a professional transit planning app for the ACTION bus system. Instead of encouraging the initiative shown by these people, the Government turned them away,” Ms Bresnan said today

“It’s hard to understand why the Government would refuse to accept a ready-made bus app that would build patronage and revenue for the ACTION service. “As a TAMS transport planner admitted last year, ACTION are making it as hard as possible for people to catch a bus in the ACT.

“I can’t see any reason for the Government to not release the data to enable this Canberra software start-up to complete their app. The ACT Greens are formally requesting the release of the data under FOI laws.

“It is clearly in the public interest for the Government to release this information, and we call on them to do so,” Ms Bresnan said.”

Again, we would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support, with extra thanks to the actbus.net forum, ABC local news network and Patrick Moody of the Greens party. We honestly have nothing financial to gain out of this, and it would help us to help you. Our prototype which we are slowly developing to be accurate is available on the Android Marketplace and can be previewed at http://www.appbrain.com/app/my-bus-2-0-schedule-canberra/com.action .Please also sign our petition available at http://www.gopetition.com/petition/42009.html . As always, should anyone have any further queries, concerns or suggestions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or email us at shneyney123 AT gmail DOT com.

Regards,

Zakaria Bouguettaya

-Imagine Team

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10 Responses to
Greens formally request Action bus data under Freedom of Informations Act
shneyney123 2:57 am 26 Jan 11

Lin said :

I’m a bit confused about that request and it will be interesting to see what the response is. On 21 Jan, TAMS told ABC:
“Paul Peters is the Director of Planning Transport for TAMS and says that this data is still being worked on.

“It’s just a checking process to make sure the buses are on the right roads when you load the mapping,” said Mr Peters on the 666 Drive program.”

It may seem straightforward to have this data available in a format that can be used by anyone, but the reality might be different? I mean, do all buses have GPS tracking devices installed for example? Funding is tight everywhere and making the data available might mean a systems upgrade too?

I also don’t think this has anything to do with political parties, though slagging off the ruling party is always a fun sport. It’s clearly a departmental issue and pollies don’t always have much control over those.

It seems your thoughts are very much in alignment in how we saw things. The questions you asked were not answered very easily, and it was really only after to talking to different people and gathering information from what people said as afterthoughts that we pieced together enough to answer them. Basically, ACTION signed a contract with Google to use their Google Transit feed specification back in 2008, and was a reaction to the petition held on this site back in 2008. They have been “working” on it ever since, and apparently can release it this very instant, according the IT department head of TAMS, but have not done so due to accessibility issues (ie not everyone would benefit from it, the aforementioned political reasons) and lack of proper IT infrastructure within ACTION. Furthermore, we also gathered that ACTION has GPS’s installed in every bus, and planned to use the GPS data at several bus stops telling users when their next bus will arrive at the stop via a small LCD display unit. From these facts, one can deduce that ACTION has already invested into using the GPS data in a way such that it can be accessed on the fly in real time and remotely (as the GPS data has to be uploaded from the bus to the stop display somehow). One can further deduce that ACTION has already spent a significant amount of time working on the Google Transit feed data (as they have had it since 2008) and have some kinda data we can work with. Even if it isnt complete, it must be nearing completion to be able to be released “this very instant” (in the words of the TAMS IT department head).
In short, to answer your question, we have considered all the points you raised and are still baffled. The money is clearly not much of an issue, we are working for free, and most of the infrastructure and data is already there. ACTION is not a private company, and as such, is subject to the local government, and by extension, its users, the public. I hope that makes clear as to the frustration and confusion to the adversity against our application,
Regards,
Zakaria

Lin 12:11 pm 24 Jan 11

I’m a bit confused about that request and it will be interesting to see what the response is. On 21 Jan, TAMS told ABC:
“Paul Peters is the Director of Planning Transport for TAMS and says that this data is still being worked on.

“It’s just a checking process to make sure the buses are on the right roads when you load the mapping,” said Mr Peters on the 666 Drive program.”

It may seem straightforward to have this data available in a format that can be used by anyone, but the reality might be different? I mean, do all buses have GPS tracking devices installed for example? Funding is tight everywhere and making the data available might mean a systems upgrade too?

I also don’t think this has anything to do with political parties, though slagging off the ruling party is always a fun sport. It’s clearly a departmental issue and pollies don’t always have much control over those.

karmacarrier 6:25 pm 23 Jan 11

Tough call.
Replacing a Government that you know is incompetent with an alternative Government that you know is incompetent doesn’t seem to achieve much.
What if the Greens had buddied up with the alternative incompetent Government?
Would they still be criticised?
Of course.
Give the Greens a go.
Give them more influence.
Make the incompetents step up and improve their performance.
Enter a brave new world.

Grail 2:55 pm 23 Jan 11

Very Busy said :

I don’t think you do agree!!! What I’m saying is that the alternative IS no less viable than the present. We should give them a go, and if they prove to be incompetent too, vote them out too. Doing this will cause a significant turnover in candidates and we will, at some point, find that we have candidates with some quality credentials with an ability to perform well in Government.

Continually voting out pollies will simply force them to focus on the “get elected, do as much damage as you can in three years to make the next crowd look worse” mentality.

While we may feel that the Liberals are just as incompetent as Labor, I would prefer stability of supply. So just keep voting for whom you feel is more competent, and which party has policies that make sense.

Deliberately churning the Government will cause far more trouble than you wish it might solve.

Very Busy 1:09 pm 23 Jan 11

Deref said :

Very Busy said :

Progressive change will occur when incompetent Governments are voted out of power. Changing the Government every four years is what is needed. If that causes some instability, that is no worse than the current wasteful, arrogant and incompetent arrangement that currently exists.

Agree completely. But until we have a viable alternative, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.

I don’t think you do agree!!! What I’m saying is that the alternative IS no less viable than the present. We should give them a go, and if they prove to be incompetent too, vote them out too. Doing this will cause a significant turnover in candidates and we will, at some point, find that we have candidates with some quality credentials with an ability to perform well in Government.

Deref 7:44 am 23 Jan 11

Very Busy said :

Progressive change will occur when incompetent Governments are voted out of power. Changing the Government every four years is what is needed. If that causes some instability, that is no worse than the current wasteful, arrogant and incompetent arrangement that currently exists.

Agree completely. But until we have a viable alternative, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.

Very Busy 11:19 pm 22 Jan 11

Dante said :

Come on people. Let’s stop having the wool pulled over our eyes. The ACT Government has always been the most incompetent of all of the State and Territories.. yet we keep putting them back into power. What’s it going to take to get some progressive changes happening in this city?

I thought it might have been the ACT Greens, but that’s been nothing but a laugh since they buddies up with Labor. Now we get the same bullshit but pretend that we can feel good about it due to minor party representation in Government or a pointless human rights Act.

Did you seriously think that a vote for the Greens at the last ACT election was going to change the incompetent Government that ACT citizens have been putting up with for so long now. It was so clearly obvious that the Greens were always going to buddy up with the incompetent Labor Government.

Progressive change will occur when incompetent Governments are voted out of power. Changing the Government every four years is what is needed. If that causes some instability, that is no worse than the current wasteful, arrogant and incompetent arrangement that currently exists.

Dante 1:43 pm 22 Jan 11

The Government doesn’t want people being able to actively access bus timetables information on the go, because it would show how unreliable the system is. Buses go early, or late, or even not at all.

Come on people. Let’s stop having the wool pulled over our eyes. The ACT Government has always been the most incompetent of all of the State and Territories.. yet we keep putting them back into power. What’s it going to take to get some progressive changes happening in this city?

I thought it might have been the ACT Greens, but that’s been nothing but a laugh since they buddies up with Labor. Now we get the same bullshit but pretend that we can feel good about it due to minor party representation in Government or a pointless human rights Act.

dvaey 10:23 am 22 Jan 11

As someone who has been mapping bus stops/routes in Canberra for the Free (as in speech) mapping project OpenStreetMap, but which is lacking the details this article is talking about, this is cool news. Many cities around the world have been releasing this data, and a lot of people have made some useful apps with it. Lets just hope that govco doesnt decide to release the data exclusively with some closed-door company like Google, where the end user will still never be able to access the raw data.

zippyzippy 9:55 am 22 Jan 11

Looks like a good app, hope it’s actually allowed to happen!

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