Originally published here
While we’re still waiting with bated breath for the details of the NSW Governments Apps4NSW competition, it appears that the NSW Government has released the first Dataset for third party use.
The Transport Data Exchange Programme is a programme to allow third party developers to build applications based on the Timetable and Service information released by the various Public Transport operators.
Below is a quick OOOG Review of the programme:
Open Source: 5
The license agreement for the use of the data doesn’t specify specific licensing of the applications built with the data.
Open Standards: 10
The data is only available in one format: TransXchange, an Open Standard developed by the British Government for the national transport industry.
“TransXChange is the UK nationwide standard for exchanging bus schedules and related data. It is used both for the electronic registration of bus routes (EBSR) with Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and the Traffic Area Networks (TAN), and for the exchange of bus routes with other computer systems, such as journey planners and vehicle real-time tracking systems.
The format is a UK national de facto standard sponsored by the UK Department of Transport. The standard is part of a family of coherent Transport related XML standards that follow GovTalk guidelines. It is also used by RTIG.“
Open Government: 3
Right up until now everything looked fine and dandy, no real issues. That is until we start looking in detail at the license that the NSW Transport and Infrastructure Authority wants every developer to sign to access the data.
The first few clauses look pretty standard. It’s when you hit clause 6 that things start to look a little less “Open Government” and a little more “We can’t let go”.
The two biggest problems with clause six are:
– That the Application Developers have to “consult NSWTI prior to making any announcement, circular or other public disclosure regarding this Agreement” and then have to “use reasonable endeavours to incorporate NSWTI’s suggested changes to any such announcement, circular or other public disclosure.”
– That the NSWTI will from time to time make suggestions or give feedback regarding the Application, and that the Developer has to take reasonable measures to include these suggestions and feedback into the application.
Taken by themselves, they are a bit of a pain. They very loudly say that if you use the data supplied by the NSWTI, then the NSWTI get’s to have a say in how you build the application provided by the NSWTI.
This alone knocked down the Open Government aspect of the OOOG Review, however it was clause 8 that really put the kicker in.
Clause 8 is “don’t make us look bad or we’ll pull your access” clause. If you build an app that either includes inappropriate content, or (and here’s the kicker) in the opinion of the NSWTI negatively affects the reputation of the various public transport authorities. This gives the NSWTI the right to pull an applications access with the simple phrase, “we believe that your application has brought the reputation of [blah] into disrepute”. There is no described arbitration method, nor is there a definition of what constitutes “negative impact”.
Along with the two bigguns above, there is also the fact that the Application Developers are forbidden to distribute the data supplied by the NSWTI in any form outside of that provided via their Application.
It’s a first step and they have to be applauded for this. They’ve actually made a commitment to putting the data out into the public arena to be utilised by third parties. Well done. However they are really let down by their choice of license. I am yet to be convinced that they couldn’t have used a Creative Commons license, and the license they went with is overly restrictive for something like apps4NSW.