08 Sep SmartDublin – Improving the Smart City Mobility through Transport APIs
By Mario Romera, Software Developer at Derilinx
Smart Cities: Focus on transport and green transport for Smart Dublin
In 2019, Forbes magazine published an article called ” Urban transport needs to do more to get drivers out of their cars“. Heather Farmbrough discusses the importance of the public transport sector making the idea of alternative, “green” transport attractive.
Smart Dublin prioritised transport as a priority Smart City theme, placing data at its centre as a key asset to enable Public Service, Citizens and the 3rd sector to innovate.
Opening Data is the most accessible way to trigger innovation in green transport
The Dublin Transport APIs were developed, as part of the Smart City programme, with a clear objective in mind, to improve the quality of green transport in Dublin.
As partners, Derilinx and Smart Dublin asked ourselves: What if we can gather all the bike data being produced every day in Dublin and we offer it as Open Data to the public? Will we engage developers to create beautiful and helpful apps around this data that encourage citizens to use greener alternatives?
The API was developed in 2019, by putting all the information together and making it open to the public. This has contributed to users developing other intelligent tools to make cyclists’ lives easier.
With this in mind, in a joint effort to publish the best and most useful Open Data, SmartDublin and Derilinx partnered with DublinBikes in 2019, collecting data from every bike station for further analysis and insights. In 2020 Mobybike and Bleeperbike were added to the system, reaching the objective of collecting data from every bike sharing scheme in Dublin.
Dublinked (data.smartdublin.ie) is the Smart City Open Data Portal and the data is publicly available through two different approaches:
- Monthly historical roll-ups – in the form of spreadsheets
- Through an API
If you are a general user, you can look at the monthly roll-ups, see a preview of the datasets and download the data in different formats to play with it, i.e.:import it into a GIS app and view the data in a map, create a time series of bike or stations use, etc.
On the other hand, if you are a developer, you can use the API to collect data for your own projects, i.e.: all the amazing projects described in the next section.
Delivering Impact for Dublin Smart City
To encourage developers to build useful apps, SmartDublin hosted an app contest using the transport Open Data publicly available, and many amazing projects were submitted. In our blog post Derilinx worked with Smart Dublin and other Partners on the Active Travel Challenge we talk about the different projects and our involvement.
Here is an overview of all the projects submitted:
- Loyalty Cycle/ Safepoints – Michael Browne (+ team): Calculate the safest route possible for bike ride between two points, with extra options for points of interest, faulty street lights or other hazards.
- Dublinbikeparking.com – Katie Chapman: Find the closest bike parking, either municipal or for Bleeperbike or Mobybike.
- Improving bike-share by detecting broken bikes – Joshua Tobin: A project aiming to automatically detect broken bikes by image analysis
- Active Travel to School: investments for impact – John Kennedy: An extensive analysis of people using bikes to go to schools.
- Widen My Path: Co-designing street layouts – Martin Lucas-Smith: Report to the city council where more space is needed for bikes.
- Pedestrian & Cycle Count Data Dashboard – Michael Beakey: Insights of pedestrian and cycle counts in Dublin.
Globalisation has proven to us the power of information and how public access to data promotes active participation by those using the services they are interested in learning more about. The examples above show that by opening access to data, many people have chosen to use it, thus helping users in their daily commute, leisure time or any kind of activity that requires transportation.
For cities planning road construction, human flows, or trying to drive greener transportation alternatives, these data help us understand how citizens move around the city and which areas need better infrastructure and safety.
We expect more and more Public Bodies and private companies to share more Open Data as the Open Data world matures. This will lead to more amazing apps and insights that will help the City Council and Local Authorities improve the transport system of our Smart City.
But not only the transport system! It can also improve air quality, water quality, flooding, waste management, etc. All of these data can greatly improve the quality of life of a city and its citizens.