Sunday, July 13, 2014

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MTA Wants Developers To Use Their Data To Design Transit Apps

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TWC News: MTA Wants Developers To Use Their Data To Design Transit Apps
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The old-fashioned subway map is giving way to high-tech help on mobile devices, and a competition this weekend will be on the hunt for even more transit apps. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

How soon before the next 4 train pulls into your station? There's an app for that.

Which subway car should you ride in if you want to get off at just the right staircase? There's an app for that, too.

Now, the MTA wants developers to dig into its data to help design the next wave of transit apps for mobile devices.

"We're hoping that developers can create intermodal apps and things that can allow people to make seamless transfers between bus and subway or subway and commuter rail," said Ernest Tollerson, the chair of the MTA Open Data Task Force.

This weekend's hack-a-thon at NYU Polytechnic in Brooklyn will give developers the chance to design apps aimed at making millions of straphangers' commutes easier, and to compete for up to $40,000 in prize money from AT&T in the second App Quest Challenge.

Last year's winner was the Embark NYC app, which gives wired straphangers maps and service advisories on their mobile devices.

"You can pretty much pinpoint if you want to go one route or another," said one straphanger. "So they're pretty helpful."

Every entry was built using MTA data available to the public.

"Someone designed an app that had a travel alarm so that you could actually get on one of our modes, decide to take a nap, but have the app wake you up before you reach your destination," Tollerson said.

Commuters who rely on the apps said they make getting around the city a lot easier, especially as wireless service comes to more subway stations.

"I think it's definitely a good step towards the future, because it's very useful compared to before, when you never knew what time the train would come," said one straphanger. "It's more accurate."

On Sunday, judges will give cash prizes to the top 3 finishers. Those apps will then compete later this summer for the MTA's stamp of approval.

Close to 300 developers are expected to participate in this this weekend's hack-a-thon. The winning apps will be made available to the public later this year.

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