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Data company progresses public transport mapping project in developing world

 

WhereIsMyTransport is aiming to map the formal and informal public transport networks of the 30 major cities of the Majority World by 2023 and update the information as they expand.

Little data is available on informal public transport networks in the developing world

Little data is available on informal public transport networks in the developing world

Mobility data specialist WhereIsMyTransport has announced plans to map the formal and informal public transport networks of the developing world’s (the Majority World) 30 major cities by 2023.

The company will manage and maintain all data sets, keeping them up-to-date as these cities expand. It aims to help governments and cities in developing countries better understand how their transport systems are used.

Mapping metro areas

Most recently, WhereIsMyTransport mapped – and now maintains datasets for – the public transport networks in Mexico City, Dhaka, and the province of Gauteng in South Africa. These metro areas have a combined population of more than 55 million. The company will collect public transport data in the remaining 27 cities, of which 19 are megacities (populations greater than 10 million).

“We have been working towards this since we began collecting public transport data in emerging markets in 2015,” said Devin de Vries, CEO, WhereIsMyTransport. “The production and maintenance of this mobility data is a fundamental first step towards transforming the public transport experience for hundreds of millions of people, and with it the social, cultural and economic landscape of these cities.”

It will also collect data from what it calls “informal” public transport networks, which run on-demand, usually departing once the vehicle is sufficiently full, and may not always follow the same route. WhereIsMyTransport said that while these services may be centrally managed in some cases by private owners, there are many cases where each vehicle on the network has a different owner.

An example of informal public transport and how ownership can vary is the minibus taxi service in South Africa, where some individuals own multiple taxis and others own only one.

“The production and maintenance of this mobility data is a fundamental first step towards transforming the public transport experience for hundreds of millions of people”

It will also map shared public transport modes which follow semi-fixed routes. For example, it has mapped tuk-tuks in India and Easybike in Bangladesh. It does not map forms of micro-mobility where the routes are chosen by the individuals who hire them.

WhereIsMyTransport has already mapped the data in 40 cities across 27 countries. Informal public transport moves up to 80 per cent of the population in these cities. Made up of thousands of routes and tens of thousands of vehicles owned and run by independent operators, these networks are effectively unmapped and offline. It reports that little or no operational information is publicly available, and nothing much in the way of support or services to help commuters improve their daily journeys, which can stretch to five hours or more.

WhereIsMyTransport recruits and trains large local teams to use its proprietary suite of tools and works alongside them to collect data on the public transport networks that they know better than anybody. Teams of data collectors on the ground capture data on thousands of routes, and map entrances, exits, stairs, gates, platforms and more at stations and interchanges.

“This collaborative method means we uncover every nuance in these unique, home-grown transport systems,” added de Vries.

“We manage and maintain our data, updating it weekly, and integrating it with consumer products and planning tools that support a better public transport experience for everyone, everywhere.”

WhereIsMyTransport was founded in South Africa and is now based in London.

This article was first published by Smart Cities World on the 18 September 2020. 

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