Text My Bus — Using Open Data to Improve Citizen’s Lives

TextMyBus is the latest app from the fellows at Code for America. The app takes data from the Detroit Department of Transportation to create a text messaging app. Basically a Detroit resident can text 50464 and get up to date schedule of the 3 bus routes closes to their current location. Click here for more details on how it work.

Prashant Singh is one of the fellows at Code for America and a key developer on the project. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program why this application really is making a difference.

“Winter’s are very cold here in Detroit,” said Singh “so when you don’t know when a bus is coming it’s a huge problem.”

Open Data

“We realized early on in this project that the data was just sitting at the DOT ready to be exposed. Detroit had opened up a lot of data after an Open Government Initiative. The DOT already had operational tracking systems that allowed them to follow bus routes and observe if a bus broke down. So really the challenge was bridging the data. Not really an issue of open data,” said Singh.

Reaction to Fellows Coming into Detroit

“We have complimentary skills, so it wasn’t like we came do anybody else’s job. So we all got along really well. Reaction to the app has been pretty positive,” said Singh.

Here is a video from Code for America explaining the TextMyBus process.

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