Mobilizing citizens for a better transport system
We led a pilot experiment to improve Mexico City's public transport by gathering information on the routes, stops and charges of its franchised public transport network, which is the largest the world. This information was crowdsourced to an open database via a phone app downloaded by inhabitants of the city.
Following strong demand from other Latin American cities, we are now looking to replicate Mapatón abroad.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Everyday, 30,000 public buses transport more than 14 million citizens in Mexico City. This is the world’s largest public bus system, with over 1,500 trajectories. Due to the complexity and continuous changes that occur in the transportation system and its magnitude, neither citizens nor the government have accurate data on the origin, destination and trajectories of these buses. The capacity to generate this information surpasses the resources and capacities of the government, opening an opportunity to test the power of intersectoral collaboration combined with user mobilization and open, participatory processes.
WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT
In February 2015, a work group, which involved C Minds (branded under PIDES at the time) and a number of other organizations, advised the creation of an app that uses gamification principles to incentivize public participation in the mapping of bus trajectories. The idea was to award the winner of the game, which would be the citizen that had mapped most routes, would win a monetary prize. The final version was the result of four iteration processes and pilot cases with university students, voluntary citizens, bus divers and members of the working group.
The final result of this exercise will be a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data set and an innovative Application Programming Interface (API) containing the data in open formats. The aim was to allow any person to use the data provided by this GTFS, including specialized government officials in data management, programing, innovation and mobility among other sectors, to develop creative solutions.
Once this dataset was made available, the work group allied with Google to organize a Hackathon, where participants developed software solutions for public transport users, based on the raw data.
OUR INNOVATIVE APPROACH
This was the first time in Mexico City that civil society and government collaborated on a framework to enable a city-wide call to generate open data through collective action.
This project was also a concrete example of the power of open government. We applied all the related principles and translated them into actions, fostering more transparent and open government practices, open data, civic participation and the strategic use of technology to solve public challenges.
We want to help cities across Latin America improve their public transport system by capitalizing on the power of crowdsourcing and mobile tech.