City council’s resident tech guru is fed up with confusion and delays surrounding the release of live GPS bus location data and is looking to take action on the file.
Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney wants the city to overhaul how it approaches technology initiatives for OC Transpo. He brought a motion that won support from the transit commission to have quarterly OC Transpo IT reports given to the IT subcommittee, so that group can also influence the transit authority’s technology projects.
“The IT subcommittee is more involved in this kind of subject matter,” Tierney said. “At transit commission, people’s eyes glaze over if you talk about technology.”
The move comes after news that only 28 per cent of the bus fleet has been outfitted with new GPS devices, when that project was supposed to be almost complete. Instead of being done by the end of the year, OC Transpo is looking at the first three months of 2012, Transpo general manager Alain Mercier wrote in a memo to city councillors Nov. 24.
OC Transpo still isn’t ready to release live GPS data about bus locations, so that people who have smartphones could use applications to locate their buses.
“It is very disheartening. I am not happy about it,” Tierney said, adding outraged phone calls and emails he received about the issue are justified.
Tierney also has concerns about if and when bus GPS information will be made public as “open data” so developers can use that information to power their own mobile applications.
OC Transpo is still working on advertising that will ensure the city can earn some revenue off of its own official bus times “app,” but if there is no money to be made, Tierney wants assurances that the data will be released to the public anyway.
“If we’re going to roll something out, it can’t be half-baked,” Tierney said.