Last year, at Open Belgium 2014, TEC announced they would be doing Open Data. In May, the first BELTAC format was released, and not much later, we had converted it to GTFS (thanks to OpenOV): the facto standard that the world wide open transport community can use. The reasons were simple: we don’t have the means to follow up on everything: just use the data and that should be the end of it.
This year, we’ve had the honour to welcome TEC again as one of the speakers in our Open Belgium 2015 edition. This year it was different, as the keynote was given by Thomas Hermine from NextRide: a start-up that reuses data from the TEC to create a user-friendly application that indicates when the next bus will pass your stop.
As the only transport company in Belgium not having created an app, TEC still hasn’t a plan to do so. Instead, they are announcing the “TEC approved application” label: you can now apply to have your app listed among the official TEC apps.
Today, TEC is releasing data files. They are not easy to interpret. iRail will soon release an API that makes it easy for all developers to build an app without having to write server-side code. Hopefully, a lot more apps will apply for TEC’s label in the near future!
Open Street Map is a crowd sourced map which can be reused by anyone. You can for example look up the Brussels North station, and see how all bus stops, platforms, railway tracks are shown with a very good precision.
This is not a coincidence. We have a very active Open Street Map Belgium community (just as iRail, it is part of Open Knowledge Belgium), that is working on integrating existing datasets with Open Street Map, and correcting errors when they see them. Polyglot wrote a very nice article which explains better what the workflow is.
If you would like to start reusing the open transport data within Open Street Map for your project, you can always get in touch with the guys at osm.be. A nice place to start is downloading a dump of entire Open Street Map over here: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Planet.osm
We have news from the app front: the guys behind Next Train in The Netherlands have expanded their app for the smart watch Pebble to Belgium. ‘Next Train’ shows the time remaining until departure of your train on your Pebble smart watch. As soon as you open the app it starts counting down to the first train home from the current nearest station. When it detects you are already home it shows the departure to your second favorite station – for example your work. You can select later departures and other near and favorite stations with a single click.
‘Next Train’ was introduced in The Netherlands with the launch of the Pebble app store at the beginning of this year. By integrating the iRail API, Belgium becomes the second country where your can plan your complete train journey from your wrist.
Download ‘Next Train’ in the Pebble app store: https://apps.getpebble.
More information on www.nexttrain.nl of follow @NextTrainNL on twitter for the latest updates.
Interesting to note is that the Next Train team was very happy to work with the iRail API, saying it’s “very accessible and pleasant to work with”. Well, the pleasure is ours too!
We’re accepted for a 90 minute session on Open Transport and iRail at the Open Belgium 2015 conference in Namur!
The conference is in 2.5 months, so we still got some time to set everything up, yet I would like to get some direction: what would you like to discuss? Who do you want me to invite? You can send suggestions to me by e-mail (pieter@iRail.be) or reply on twitter to the tweet announcing this post.
Open Belgium is a yearly conference first organised in 2014. It’s a come together of Open Knowledge experts and enthusiasts throughout the country to discuss the state of play. In 2015, Open Knowledge Belgium is organising this conference in Namur on the 23d of February. You can secure tickets through the website (mind that contributors to a session can get access to the conference for free).
ISWC is the international conference on the Semantic Web where I’m presenting the recent development of iRail.be towards a hypermedia API. I’m hoping to gather feedback on our way of working and hope it can set an example for development of Linked Data interfaces in route planning. You can find the slides below:
You can test iRail as a linked data interface by running some command line commands:
#List all stations the Belgian railway company (NMBS) is operating on: curl -H "accept: application/json" https://irail.be/stations/NMBS
#show all departures for a certain stop curl -H "accept: application/json" https://irail.be/stations/NMBS/008896412