Programmers Create Mobility Solutions

A Hackathon is a simple idea. Invite lots of programmers to volunteer for a day, pitch ideas, then get to work on the ideas that get them excited. That’s the beauty behind Code For America: Austin.

There were several mobility ideas pitched at this years Hackathon including an Austin wiki focusing on mobility, 311 tags for problems in need of attention or ideas for improvements, real time info for transit, and a mobile version of the Austin bike map.

The group of programmers passed on the 311 idea, having heard from Austin’s Chief Information Office that a 311 mobile app that will enable users to identify what services are needed and where, much like San Francisco’s SeeClickFix, will be available late 2012.

What this group of energetic programmers decided to work on was a proof of concept for a mobile app that relays real time bus information to users. Given they only had one day, they narrowed their focus on building the guts (my non-technical term) for the web-based programming that would use a cell phone signal from a bus rider to identify the bus route and track that signal to provide real time geographic locations of the bus. By the end of the day they were able to test the functionality of the concept and prove that their real time tracking would work. Now Movability has something we can take to CapMetro and enlist their help to pilot a real time “next bus” app using crowd source information.

Another team also completed a mobile version of the Austin bike map.

Thanks to developers: Keith Casey, Twilio; Nolan Darilek; Matthew Hall, Neighborland; Mark O’Brien; Sophia Parafina, work on Cap Metro data files; Kevin Reilly Basjump.io; Shanta Stevens; Naqi Syed, Basejump.io; and Laura Seton, TNR/photographs.

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