WhereIsMyTransport, an open digital platform that provides information on formally and informally run transport services in emerging cities, has won the International Transport Forum’s (ITF) 2017 Promising Transport Innovation Award.
Offered annually by the ITF, an intergovernmental organization with 57 member countries, the award recognizes an innovation that has the potential to significantly improve the quality, performance, user experience, accessibility, sustainability or intermodality of transport networks.
Launched in August 2016 by UK-based startup WhereIsMyTransport, the system provides unparalleled access to data for users, operators and planners in developing countries. The platform supports 20 cities in 10 countries across Africa and the Middle East in providing better information about mobility. Among the cities supported by the platform are Cape Town and Durban in South Africa, Beirut in Lebanon, and Accra in Ghana.
WhereIsMyTransport centralizes mobility data in a platform that anyone can build upon to provide transport information (feed digital signage at stops), develop software products (mobility apps for transport users), or analyze metrics to improve transport provision (as a tool for city transport planners).
The company works with transport operators, cities and governments, and with implementation partners such as Microsoft, to deliver innovations that make mobility services easier to use for citizens. Uniquely, WhereIsMyTransport includes informal transport services in addition to official public transport. In Africa, up to an estimated 80% of public transport users rely on informally run transport, and information on routes or travel times is mostly communicated by word-of-mouth.
Built to accept data in any format and live coordinates from any kind of device, the WhereIsMyTransport platform can integrate data on even the most rudimentary operators. With specially developed tools, WhereIsMyTransport mapped the informal transport sector of Cape Town in early 2017, making it the world’s first city to have all its transport, both formal and informal, mapped and the data openly available. A hackathon organized in Cape Town challenged software developers to use the data for tools that help citizens to simplify their mobility choices, and more hackathons are planned in other cities.
“WhereIsMyTransport is a ground-breaking project that shows the way to the ‘infostructure’ that will drive mobility in the future,” said José Viegas, Secretary-General of the ITF. “Among the many transport-related big data projects, it stands out in that it considers informal transport, empowers user choice, and encourages developing countries to start thinking about data collection and planning. WhereIsMyTransport has the potential for significant local impacts.”