Social Networks and Transport at SPUR

Screenshot of BusMeister game on Facebook 2012.

BusMeister was a public transport game on Facebook that encouraged players to use the platform to suggest ideas for improving public transport in their cities.

On my visit to the Bay Area I presented ideas on social networks and transport in San Jose (Thursday) and in a workshop in San Francisco (Friday) at SPUR.

We had a nice discussion about social networking and transport at SPUR in San Jose (here’s the introductory presentation on social networking in transport). Among the messages I took home:

  • We should use existing social networking applications to collect information and data, we don’t always need to create our own apps. The example of mining twitter data to better understand transport conditions (done in a Texas city as part of their Regional Transport Plan) was given as good practice;
  • Several attendees were working for government agencies and they summarized some of the problems getting their agencies to adopt innovative new ideas like social networking … it’s not always because these agencies are conservative … but it is a complex problem;
  • Importantly, if agencies don’t get ahead of social networking there is danger that others will develop social networking sites and the agencies will lose an important opportunity to communicate with their customers/ the public;
  • How do you actually get transport agencies to do good things (e.g. bike lanes, bus lanes, etc.) and social networking … really getting things done?

This doesn’t really do justice to the interesting conversation we had, but gives a little of the flavor. I’m looking forward to more discussion tomorrow in San Francisco, here’s a link to the details for the San Francisco SPUR event.

Friday’s roundtable on Social Networks and Transport at SPUR in San Francisco was quite productive. Attendees included application developers, agency planners, consultants and “normal” people. I’m still processing all the thoughts, but a couple points included:

  • need to provide incentives for people to participate;
  • how to get government to embrace new applications? maybe we need to focus on changing administrational or institutional processes rather than focusing on developing neat applications?

More of these ideas later …

The presentation also gave me a chance to see the great show at SPUR on 10 Diagrams that Changed City Planning, highly recommended.

Andy Nash

November 19, 2012

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