Vienna public involvement in transport app development

Vienna public involvement in transport app development

Meine Radspur Application Vienna Austria

meine-radspur is a GIS app developed in Vienna that tracks the routes used by bicyclists. Riders can indicate hazards and places that need improvements later.

I’m organising a roundtable discussion on using social applications (social networks, crowd sourced reporting, online games, wikis, and other tools) for helping improve sustainable transport.

We’ll start by identifying existing applications and then brainstorm ideas for Vienna (and beyond). If there’s interest we’ll organise a group to develop a real application or two. If you have questions or good examples to include in the presentation please contact me (

When: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 … 18:30 – 20:30
Where: The Impact HUB Vienna, Lindengasse 56, 1070 Vienna

Please register here (free):

Proposed structure for understanding interactive city tools

Proposed structure for understanding interactive city tools

Nash-Interactive City Tool Structure

I’ve just finished preparing a paper titled A Proposed Structure for Understanding Interactive City Tools for the upcoming TU Delft conference: Using ICT, Social Media and Mobile Technologies to Foster Self-Organisation in Urban and Neighbourhood Governance.

The paper turned out to be much harder than I thought to write because I kept getting different ideas on how to organize the different interactive city tools … by the way, I borrowed the name “Interactive City Tools” from Play the City, an organization doing really great work out of Amsterdam. It refers to a wide set of applications and information technologies that can be used to help the public get involved in improving cities.

The paper was useful for me because it gives me a structure for thinking about interactive city technologies. It’s already helped me as I prepared a proposal for developing an application designed to improve the intermodal station planning process.

The figure above is from the paper. It shows the five main elements of the proposed structure: input, analysis, support, collaboration, and output. Most applications cover several of these elements which is one reason developing the structure was difficult.


Paper: A Proposed Structure for Understanding Interactive City Tools

Presentation: Interactive City Tools – a proposed structure for understanding

Conference Papers and Presentations: Using ICT, Social Media and Mobile Technologies to Foster Self-Organisation in Urban and Neighbourhood Governance

Grr-Grr-Bike smart phone game

Grr-Grr-Bike! (working title) is a new smart phone app game designed to link players with local bike advocacy groups and provide some funding to these groups through in-app purchases. We have finished the prototype and are now working on fundraising to get the app finished.

That’s the YouTube Grr-Grr-Bike! game introduction video up above.

We need to raise 10,000 Euros to finish the game and put it on the app store. We are raising funds via the crowd funding application Indiegogo, here’s the Grr-Grr-Bike! Indiegogo information page (donate here!). There’s some fun perks for people who donate. UPDATE: We did not raise our goal and so we’re looking for other funding opportunities.

Even if you can’t donate, it would be great if you spread the word to your friends who are bikers and/or gamers … even watching / liking the video on YouTube will help.

Let me know if you have any ideas or questions in the comments and thanks for your help.

Connected Commuting

Connected Commuting

Waze Application Homepage

Waze – “Outsmarting Traffic Together” – application homepage.

A new report “Connected Commuting” was just released on the use of social networking in transport. The report describes how commuters use two social network apps to share information: Waze (for automobile drivers) and Roadify (for public transport users).

The study used two techniques: sentiment analysis of words used in the social network comments and focus group discussions. The primary sentiment analysis method used was a software program that recognizes the emotional connotation behind specific words and phrases.

Connected Commuting (2012) Report Cover

Connected Commuting (2012) Report Cover

The study’s main conclusion is that social networking can be very useful for improving transport. It recommends that transport agencies use Sentiment Analysis to help provide better information to users. The report also recognizes that “technology is integral to the future of commuting” and states, “There is a real opportunity to please commuters and enhance the commuting experience through future app technology.”

I’d say that these conclusions also apply to transport in general (not just commuting) and the full report is well worth reading. On the other hand, the report seems to go too far with its generalizations about the differences between how auto drivers and public transport passengers use social networking. Clearly these groups use social networking differently, but I think there’s not enough data to support strong conclusions on differences since this field is changing extremely rapidly and the study was based on a limited amount of data. (The Roadify data used in the Sentiment Analysis was for a relatively short amount of time and the focus groups were very small.) This isn’t meant as a criticism of the study, only to say that it’s clearly the beginning of a fascinating field of research. Congratulations to the Task Force for starting the process and developing a structured approach for the analysis.

One idea for further research to consider additional social networks and uses of information. Maybe public transport users don’t use social networks as much as drivers because public transport users are well served by existing real time schedule applications. So it would be interesting to consider how social networking apps can be used to achieve other transport goals such as reporting system problems (e.g. seeclickfix) or long range planning input (e.g., There were also several fascinating studies on the use of Twitter and Facebook presented at the 2012 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (Transit Wire report on Chicago CTA project) and 2011 IIID Transport Conference in Vienna (my summary notes).

Read more discussion of the Connected Commuter report at the Transit Wire and Atlantic Cities.

The Connected Commuter study was conducted by the “New Cities Foundation Task Force in San Jose” a team consisting of the New Cities Foundation, Ericsson, the City of San Jose’s Department of Transportation, and the University of California’s Mobile Millennium team from the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society.

Open Cities Project

Open Cities Project map. was one of the finalists in the Open Cities app contest. was one of the finalists in the Open Cities app contest.

The Open Cities project is developing and testing open and user-driven technologies designed to improve public sector activities. Seven cities are project partners (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Helsinki, Paris, Rome and Bologna) where the ideas are being/ will be tested. One part of the project is organizing challenges for people to develop new applications and technologies.

Open Cities organized a challenge for applications that use open data to help solve the real problems people face in everyday urban life. They received 113 entries (I entered GreenCityStreets, although it probably did not qualify since it does not use API feeds of open data). The winner and runners-up were announced at the Smart City Expo in Barcelona last week (article). The winner sounds like a great app:

  • BlindSquare (Finland) – This app helps improve life for blind people. It uses algorithms to decide what information is the most relevant and then speaks it with high-quality speech synthesis.

Honourable mention went to the following apps:

  • Nice City Pass – This app developed for the City of Nice (France) improves urban mobility by providing realtime info on parking and transport systems (public transport and bike rentals).
  • BikeCityGuide (Austria) – This app offers a complete navigation system for cyclists in cities. I’ve used it in Vienna and it’s quite nice.

The seven other finalists in the app challenge were:

  • Toilet Map Vienna (Austria) – This app helps you find a public toilet. It uses open data from the city of Vienna (including information about accessibility) and displays info via augmented-reality. Interestingly, Vienna actually has lots of public toilets.
  • Hogenood (Netherlands) – This app also helps you locate the nearest restroom and includes comments and ratings.

(AN: Looks like we need a toilet locating system for all cities!)

  • PayPark (Spain) – This app allows users to pay for parking in the restricted parking areas (blue zones, etc).
  • (Germany) – You can use this app to find wheelchair accessible places and to add more to the map. It’s built using open street map.

(AN: There seems to be no end to transport applications.)

  • Huellasolar (Spain) – This app provides ‘solar cartography’ of Spanish cities. It allows users to identify areas with insufficient sunlight or check annual radiation levels.
  • ComunicaPA (Italy) – This app uses open information to let citizens and businesses speak directly to Italian public administrations, improving information and quality of life.
  • Eureka! (Italy) – This app uses open data from public administrations and presents it as a geolocalized index of life quality on a map. It looks like they are also developing a sensor that citizens can use to feed air quality data to the public (see developer description).

I’ll have lots of surfing to do in the next couple weeks to check out all these applications. This was a great idea by Open Cities and I hope they do it again!

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