Mapping public transport in Belgium

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.

Brussels North station

The Brussels North Station in Open Street Map

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.

Belgian volunteers add the data of NMBS/SNCB in the maps of Open Street Map

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 A nice place to start is downloading a dump of entire Open Street Map over here:


14 January 2015 by
Categories: open data | Leave a comment

Next Train for the Pebble smart watch comes to Belgium

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.

A nice example of the slick user experience next train will give you

A nice example of the slick user experience next train will give you

‘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:
More information on of follow @NextTrainNL on twitter for the latest updates.

Next Train BE

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!

10 December 2014 by
Categories: apps, NMBS | Leave a comment

Accepted for a session at the Open Belgium conference

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 ( 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).

01 December 2014 by
Categories: Meetings, News & events | Leave a comment

iRail at ISWC2014

ISWC is the international conference on the Semantic Web where I’m presenting the recent development of 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"
#show all departures for a certain stop
curl -H "accept: application/json"

19 October 2014 by
Categories: iRail, iRail 3.0 | Leave a comment

Opening up transit data

In this TEDxGhent talk, Pieter Colpaert explains his PhD in 3 minutes. It’s at the same time 3 simple reasons why it’s better to open up transit information, rather than each party keeping it to themselves:

  1. We don’t want a separate app for each and every transit agency.
  2. We don’t want the transit agencies themselves to decide what questions we will ask to our smartphone when the data would be shared among transit agencies.
  3. We don’t want only 1 private company to build the only application: there are way too many users for this 1 company to come up with an app that works for everyone.

Opening up the data for (new) companies to enrich their services or products and opening up the data for the Web so that smart clients can do their own reasoning over the data, is what we see as the next big innovation in transport information.


03 September 2014 by
Categories: open data | Leave a comment

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