- Category: News and Highlights
On 4 July 2013, KIPPRA in collaboration with the University of Nairobi, School of Computing and Informatics; the Centre for Sustainable Urban Development, Columbia University; the Civic Data Design Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and Groupshot hosted the workshop “Smart Sustainable Transport for Nairobi: Creating an Open Access Data Base for Public Transit”. The aim of the workshop was to present findings by the Digital Matatu consortium on an open access data base for matatu/bus and rail in Nairobi and to use this to build collaborations and dialogue around the pressing need to collect and make open public transport data for Nairobi as well as other Kenyan cities.
James Gachanja of KIPPRA opened the workshop with a brief discussion on how difficult it is to acquire adequate transport data, yet efforts to create such data and make it open are critical for better planning and policy making. MIT Professor, Sarah Williams, made a presentation on creating an open access data set of the Nairobi matatu/bus and rail system including routes and stops. She discussed the significance of putting this data into a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format which allows easy use by app developers. She also noted that it presents numerous challenges because of the flexible nature of the matatu system which, at times, changes routes and stops.
Tech entrepreneur, Laban Okune, demonstrated the power of the data. He spoke about his award winning Ma3route app which provides users with traffic updates, matatu directions and bad driving reports. David Kanyari from the Kenya Roads Board described his remarkable effort to collect transport data for the city and to use it to develop the Nairobi trip planner called pangasafari. This provoked lively conversation which, in turn, underscored the pressing need for more work on creating and sharing public transport data in Kenya. In collaboration with the Digital Matatu group, KIPPRA plans to explore the idea of hosting an open access transport data platform.