Perspective on non-agency data clearing house for Google Transit

As anyone who follows this blog, my presentations, or my work and advocacy will know, I am a great admirer of the TriMet’s (Portland, OR) innovation and smart strategies for marketing, communications, and information management.

Recently, some folks have begun considering whether state DOT’s could play a role as data aggregators for Google Transit.  I asked TriMet’s Chief Technology Officer what he thought of the idea.  Here was Tim’s response:

“We want to provide the most accurate and up to date information to our customers in a timely manner without adding overhead to our process.  Making our data readily available on the web is the easiest, most direct and efficient method.  Introducing a data clearing house as a barrier between us and our customers just doesn’t make sense.  If a clearing house could add value to the data we make available, it’s right there for them to use.” (Tim McHugh, CTO TriMet)

In other words, it’s great to see states taking an interest in Google Transit, and hopefully they’ll provide funding, expertise, and project management, and maybe even do something besides Google Transit that’s useful with the data.  But don’t lock the state into one approach and on data system.  Let agencies choose solutions and approaches that best fit their needs.

That’s the beauty of Google Transit and so many internet technologies.  They free data and spur innovation.

-Aaron

Aaron is the founding principal of Trillium Solutions, Inc. He brings experience that includes 12 years of web-development with 8 years in public transportation, with knowledge of fixed-route transportation, paratransit, rural transportation, and active transportation modes. Aaron is a recognized expert in developing data standards, web-application design, digital communications, and online marketing strategy. He originally developed Trillium’s GTFS Manager, and has played a key role in the development of the GTFS data specification since 2007.