NBC Philadelphia runs story on civic hacking and transit accessibility following tweets

NBC News ArticleIn a previous post I wrote about Unlock Philadelphia; a prototype web app we developed at a transit hackathon to help visualize accessibility in Philadelphia. Well, thanks to the app, and a few tweets about an abandoned elevator at 8th and Market Station, accessibility and civic hacking made the news this week.

NBC10 reporter Vince Lattanzio noticed  tweets with photos I made to SEPTA_SOCIAL reporting an elevator that had been out of service for 2 months. The outage had prevented hundreds of people from getting between trains going east-bound and the street. I got back to him with more information about why I cared about this and shared the Unlock Philly app. He phoned me later that day for an interview.

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Using GitHub’s open data to keep up with pull requests and issues

ReposWatch logoI love social coding and GitHub is awesome. However, keeping up with open pull requests and issues across projects can be a challenge.

Sometimes I miss notification emails and the GitHub UI doesn’t make it easy to see all the  open pull requests and issues I’m interested in without a lot of clicking around (especially if I’m not the owner of some of the repos I contribute to and watch).

This led me to create a simple webapp called ReposWatch that makes use of GitHub’s API and consolidates all watched repos by user. Ordering the repos (desc) by number of open items makes it easy to see where action needs taking.

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Philadelphia bus mapping using open data

Philly Buses by Neighborhood Map

Philly Buses By Neighborhood Map

In my previous post I talked about an app I worked on at a Hackathon that visualizes the accessibility of Philadelphia stations and services around them.  After seeing how much open transit data is out there and being inspired by other open data mapping apps, including those by Chris Whong (in particular the Baltimore City Charm Circulator visualization he worked on with a team at Reinvent Transit), I thought it would be cool to see bus routes, positions and patterns by Philly neighborhood and integrate this into the ‘Unlock Philadelphia’ website.

Google transit searches go point to point and assume you know your exact departure and destination locations.

SEPTA’s website lets you see bus routes and positions, but for a single route that you already know by number.

How about if you’re new to an area, don’t have a car and just want to know where you can get to on the transit system and see where all the buses are? Or just interested in all the places it’s possible to get to easily without getting the car out? In other words, add a bit of serendipity to your search.

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Transit Apps for Philly Hackathon; Unlocking Philadelphia

Deadline approaching

Combining open data sets and prototyping at Apps For Philly Transit

Apps For Philly Transit is an annual Hackathon that “aims to bring together transportation organizations and citizens of Philadelphia to rapidly conceive, design, and prototype uses of open data relating to transportation in Philly”.

I pitched an idea called Unlock Philadelphia: an application to help people with disabilities, parents with strollers and older people to find accessible stations and transit information. By combining transit data with with Yelp’s open data feed, I wanted to also find accessible shops, restaurants and services close to accessible stations.

The idea received votes and positive feedback so I formed a team and built it.

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Mapping Open Traffic Crash Data

Nottingham Traffic Accidents Map

Nottingham Traffic Accidents Map

Open Data Nottingham has released traffic accident data  covering incidents in Nottinghamshire for the last four years.  For reported accidents, persons are listed (anonymously) if they suffer slight, severe or fatal injuries.  Drivers are identified, along with age/gender, but only if they are injured.  The quality and format of the data is good.

Nottingham City’s website already has a map representation of the data, but it doesn’t allow filtering and there is no colour coding or categorisation, making it difficult to spot patterns.

To provide a better visualisation, I reorganized the data using a custom Java app and categorised individual accidents by severity, time of accident and age group of persons injured in accidents.  The most serious injury sustained by any person involved in an accident determines the overall severity of the accident; times of day have been split into bands, so have driver ages.

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