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Sexy Data Solutions for Public Transit Systems

#sxsw #PubTrans

Gas prices are up, suburban areas are adopting near-transit, mixed-use philosophies of development, and everyone wants to get to work on time. It's no surprise that use of public transportation is rising. With the ubiquity of the internet and smartphones, up-to-date information shouldn't be hard to find. And yet, some major cities and transit systems aren't using digital tools to update riders. Others have developed hyper-current feeds and channels to make sure citizens are in the know. In short, the amount of transit-related information that needs to be disseminated is tremendous. This panel will discuss: 1) How riders have created their own sources and channels for breaking news and providing current information. 2) The newest platforms chosen by official transit agencies for getting information out, and why some work better than others. 3) How crowd-sourced information can help create "smart cities"? 4) Ways the public can apply similar tactics to other areas in their cities.



Amy Snyder Comm Specialist Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District

Amy Snyder graduated with honors from the University of Illinois in 2010 with a double degree in Communication and Rhetoric. Since July 2010, she has worked at the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District as the Communications Specialist. Her position was created for social media and transmitting information. Amy manages the transit agency’s pages on five social networks and also writes a blog and enewsletter.

Although her time in the professional realm is brief, Amy attempts to make up for it by listening to over two hours of podcasts each day and devouring industry blogs to supplement her expertise.

Brian Ferris Founder & Lead Developer OneBusAway

Brian Ferris is a software engineer with the Transit team at Google, helping to provider riders with public transit information for hundreds of cities around the world. He recently completed his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he explored how real-time rider information can improve the usability of public transit. Part of that exploration included the creation of OneBusAway, a suite of open-source transit tools that currently help tens of thousands of Seattle-area riders navigate public transit each and every day. Brian is a big believer in open transit data, and he is an active member of a number of communities around transit data specifications and open-source software. Brian currently resides in Zürich, Switzerland, where he is spoiled rotten by the city's top-notch transit system.

Eugenia Chien Co-founder Muni Diaries

Eugenia Chien is the co-founder of Muni Diaries, an award-winning website where bus riders in San Francisco contribute stories, transit updates, and news tips. Thanks to the contribution of riders, Muni Diaries is often the first place you'll find eyewitness accounts of accidents, delays, or other strange happenings on public transit.

Muni Diaries was voted Best Local Blog by the readers of the San Francisco Bay Guardian in 2009 and Best Transit Blog by SFWeekly in 2011. On behalf of Muni Diaries, Eugenia was a 2011 Knight Digital Media Center fellow.

Laura Oppenheimer Mktg Mgr

Laura Oppenheimer is a marketing manager at Formspring, a global service that encourages millions of people around the world to respond to one another in an authentic and meaningful way. At Formspring she manages communications, online marketing programs and events. Previously she worked in marketing at OpenDNS and Ning, as well as a journalist for publications including Time Out Chicago and The Chicago Sun-Times.

Ravi Pina Founder Caltrain Tweets

Ravi Pina is a network engineer at Mozilla where he helps to build better networks to keep the web free, open, and accessible to all. A daily commuter who has lived and worked around the world he has seen first hand many different types of public transit communication.

Frustrated with his San Francisco Bay Area commute, he created Caltrain Tweets, a crowdsourcing service that allows commuters to tweet Caltrain service delays and bike car status where they can be viewed by all on Twitter.

When not working, he can be found at home with his fiancé and furry pets collecting and drinking whisk(e)y, cooking in the kitchen or at the grill. He enjoys food, photography, house music, and travel and at times combines all 4.

He has been accused of liking bacon too much.

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