Nov. 21, 2011 10:00 am

SEPTA developer showcase puts realtime schedule apps on display for transit agency officials [VIDEO]

Those in the open gov movement call it ‘evangelizing.’ By not letting technology be the end but the beginning and taking projects to decision makers to improve alternatives, the civic-minded technologist can make development easier for the next guy (or gal). Philadelphia has seen much more of that in the last year. Friday marked another […]

Developer Reed Lauber presents NEXTSepta, his application using the SEPTA real time API. A dozen other projects were displayed at the showcase inside SEPTA headquarters to a roomful of transit agency officials.

Those in the open gov movement call it ‘evangelizing.’

By not letting technology be the end but the beginning and taking projects to decision makers to improve alternatives, the civic-minded technologist can make development easier for the next guy (or gal). Philadelphia has seen much more of that in the last year. Friday marked another installment.

More than a dozen local transit application developers held captive an audience of more than 40 SEPTA officials with a clear message: keep providing stable, real-time APIs and related data sources, and we’ll keep building cool, useful tools that the public will use.

The SEPTA developer showcase, organized by the transit agency emerging technologies lead Mike Zaleski, was a follow up to the October Apps for SEPTA hackathon, which Zaleski and SEPTA endorsed and was organized by Voxeo Labs hacker Mark Headd and the Devnuts crew. [Full Disclosure: Technically Philly was a sponsor of the hackathon.]

After a morning tour of the SEPTA command center in Center City, developers were given a podium in a conference room and slowly, with Zaleski’s prodding, SEPTA officials of various backgrounds and roles came in to watch.

Events like these can help encourage SEPTA leadership to focus more on scalable, secure and reliable data and less on front-end tools, freeing up resources, Zaleski has said.

The set list:

  • iTrans by Adam Ernst — A versatile, unreleased SEPTA iPhone app from a Brooklyn-based iOS developer.
  • SEPTAlking by Mark Headd — A voice and instant message SEPTA schedule command tool. Github here. This was initially developed during the Apps for SEPTA hackathon.
  • beta.SEPTA.mobi by Devnuts — The wide-ranging SEPTA web app built by a few coders from the Devnuts crew was demoed. See it here.
  • NextSEPTA by Reed Lauber — A sleek subway, trolley and bus web app from the South Philly developer. See Technically Philly coverage of this project here.
  • Travel board by Maurice Gaston and Justin Walgran — A dashboard of upcoming schedules for frequent trips. Development details here. The project won second place at the SEPTA hackathon. See video of their hackathon presentation here.
  • Transitfone by Joseph Tricario — An app that tracks, stores and analyzes common SEPTA delays, built by an Azavea developer.
  • Railbandit by Yuriy Yakimenko — With native apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Android (including free trials for the last two), this years-old tool, which Technically Philly covered in November 2009, features schedules for transit agencies beyond SEPTA, including NJ Transit, Boston, NYC and others.
  • Transit Power by Frazell Thomas — A boldly designed Windows mobile app
  • PhillyBus by Tim Wisniewski — Text message an intersection and a bus route line (i.e. Frankford and Berks #3) to 215-987-5416 and receive the nearest bus stop and upcoming bus times. This was another project from the SEPTA hackathon.
  • Just Missed It by Lloyd Emelle — Tracks upcoming departures and integrates QR codes for line schedules. It debuted at the SEPTA hackathon — see video of that presentation here.
  • Septority Report by Chris Alfano and Matt Monihan — Using the open-source technology behind Xbox Kinect, the Jarv.us pair built a tool that allows users to motion-sensor scroll through SEPTA schedules. Video of their presentation from last month’s SEPTA hacakthon here. Video of their presentation Friday below or here.

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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