Friday, 27 March 2009

#brum #buses times mashup in SL, phone and proxy


Yesterday I spend the afternoon doing a demo of displaying live bus times in SL ready for a council Transport Summit. In doing so I discovered all sorts of council resources I wasn't aware of. Others might be, but in case you too aren't then here they are, and also info about how we did the mash-up, and a proxy you can use for your own mashup (until we get asked to close it down!).

The first site is DigiTV. This was designed for people to access council services from a set top box, but it also works really well from an iPhone (or any large web phone) as its all simple menus and chunky links. From here you can get to council info on what's on, travel information, GP services, job centres, report problems etc. If you drill down on the Transport links you can get to every bus stop in the city and the next bus times - either timetable or real-time derived. And if you break out of the frame ( you can bookmark individual bus stops on your phone - I finally get what the Finns had a decade ago - the ability to not walk out my door til I know I can hit a bus!

The other site is This gets you into the same live bus data but through a very simple HTML layout - great for older phones, and also does simple Google Maps of the bus stops in a given area.

To get a single bus stop simply the URL is - where the atcoCode is the ID of the stop - just look at the URL to see it.

In order to do the mashup we just wanted the bus times in simple text - not HTML or layout. So we wrote a simple Perl proxy that is given an atcoCode and calls the URL above, then strips out all the HTML and gives you the data in cod XML, or plain text (and we're working on RSS). To use it just call:

Guess where I catch the bus! Just change the atco code to the bus stop you want, and change op=text to op=html to see in very simple html, or op=sl to see in cod xml.

Happy to let anyone play with the proxy for further mash-ups - and be great to knwo if you use it.

And before any one asks why would anyone go all the way into SL just to check there bus time that is NOT the intention of the demo. Its just part of a broader demo of how virtual worlds can be used to mash up a wide variety of data in new ways to give city (and business) managers and planners new ways of looking at and sharing information - help help build the national and global Birmingham profile for digital innovation whilst we're at it!

***Imported from old blog***

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