Still Waiting on MUNI? Open Data to the Rescue

Do you think that a 21st century city like San Francisco needs to do a better job incorporating open data into public transportation? Luckily, the smart people at Kicker Studios do, too.

According to Scientific American, the design company has recently been working on a SMS interface that uses a number of data sets that have been available – and under utilized – for years. This interface is a work-in-progress, designed with the goal of using all this open data to improve on NextBus – a system that tells you when San Francisco busses and other forms of public transportation are coming. The data being put to use by Kicker Studios covers bus routes, incident reports, fastest routes, safest routes and parking information – ultimately, to make MUNI better.

The seed for the idea was planted when design teams and city leaders came together at the September 29th Good Design event in San Francisco. The goal: find creative ways to improve upon daily life in San Francisco. San Francisco Director of Innovation Jay Nath challenged Kicker Studios to come up with an innovative approach to educating the public on the value of open data. Kicker Studios – like many of us here at Reset – believed that MUNI had much room for improvement and believed enhancing the system would be a great way to showcase the value of open data. 

[How can we make San Francisco city government work better for all of us? Sign up for the Reset SF Newsletter to learn more.]

New Transit App Could Replace NextBus

NextBus isn’t perfect. The company found many limitations with the NextBus system – off schedule data, predicted arrivals times thrown off by delays, and a lack of a central communication system to instantly report problems that come up.

With these problems in mind, Kicker Studios is hard at work on an SMS interface that will allow bus drivers to instantly report incidents that could affect service and provide real-time info on rerouted buses. From a users' perspective, the interface will provide better real-time estimates by factoring in traffic data, tell you where you are most likely to find a cab based on most traveled taxi routes, and give you advice on which bus route is most efficient based on real-time data. Sounds great, right?

I know you’re asking, “How do I get hands on this app?” Slight catch, the app doesn’t exist yet. There is no set time for the release of a website or app but stay tuned. When it does become available, it might just spare you from explaining to your boss why you’re late for work… again. 


Sign up for our weekly newsletter and join the conversation on Facebook.


Check out some of our newest Blogs:

     Universal Internet Access for All San Franciscans

     Why is San Francisco So Dirty?

     SFPark – The iPhone App for Smart Parking in San Francisco

     Food Truck Rodeo Review – Off the Grid

Nick Vojdani's picture

More Data is a No Brainer

Think about how successful NextBus has been, we all use it. And consider all the data limitations it has. If there were an option that could use even more timely and relevant data I'm sure that it would be an even bigger success.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137