You probably know we’re organizing, since 2011 already, open Summer of code, where we hire up to 30 students to work on open source projects.
Today, we’re looking for students to hire! Thanks to OASIS, a 50% grant from the European Commission Open Knowledge Belgium received, we will be able to hire a small team of students this year again on predicting how busy your train will be.
The current status of our occupancy predictions are explained at https://irail.be/app or in this talk:
To that extent: if you’d be a student willing to join this team, we’re still looking for a front-ender/UX-er, looking for a transport scientist, a back-ender and maybe someone who want to take the lead on the communication strategy.
— iRail (@iRail) February 4, 2017
If you would be a company who would like to support iRail financially (we still only have 50% of the money needed for this team), please let us know as well! We’d love to talk to you whether we can add something that also suits your needs.
Open Knowledge Belgium has a yearly conference called Open Belgium! In 2017, the Open Belgium conference will be held in Brussels on March the 6th. Today, the call for speakers was announced!
As this is a yearly tradition for iRail as well to host a session as well, we would love to know who’s interested in participating in summing up the state of the art of Open Transport in a break-out room. Anyone?
It has now been one month since we soft-launched the iRail occupancy features of Spitsgids. From then on, it would be possible for commuters, to indicate how busy their train would be. Of course, we would not be iRail if we would not give this back to the community: you can not all start working with this data, as we published all the feedback we got until now (about 1400 entries) in 1 file:
<blink>Get it while it’s hot! http://gtfs.irail.be/nmbs/feedback/</blink>
This evening, Monday the 10th of October, we are pitching this new dataset as a resource for people at the Ghent Data Dive on mobility data. The challenge entails to use this data to predict the future. Now that we now for sure how busy certain trains were, we want to predict how busy certain trains will be in the future, by using various different datasets, such as the iRail query logs, the weather data of KMI/IRM, buienradar, Uitdatabank, etc.
In May 2016, TreinTramBus and iRail successfully finished a crowd-funding campaign called Spitsgids, in which we were able to raise €4140 from 121 believers. We promised to hire students during open Summer of code 2016 and to open up the data through the iRail API. Today we are proud to announce the beta launch of occupancy rates in iRail!
What does a beta launch mean?
We have launched the API in production, and apps can integrate the score and can provide us with feedback. The feedback is opened up as open data in realtime under a CC0 license at https://api.irail.be/logs. For the time being, we have 4 occupancy levels instead of 3: high, medium, low and… unknown. Unknown means that we would like to invite the user to give us feedback about this train as we could not make a prediction at this time. We will keep the ‘unknown’ until we have gathered enough data. In the meantime, everyone can start using and reusing the data!
What features are we still going to implement?
Two important features still need implementation. To start with, we want to ‘transfer’ the occupancy from user feedback to the next connections on the line, based on assumptions about how occupancy evolves in a train. We already have a theoretical framework about how this should function, but the technical stuff still needs to be done.
Aside from that, and even more important, the API should learn to make predictions from user feedback. From that, it could learn about structurally busy trains, but also about more exceptional events, like festivals or when the weather is nice and everybody wants to go to the sea. This would be the real power of crowd-sourced information, and it would enable people to plan their journeys in more comfort.
If you think you can help with that, do not hesitate! Also, the more feedback you give about your train, the better!
Arne, Stan, Serkan and Pieter
We have updated the API docs slightly over here:
- Vehicle information now contains much more data about arrivals, delays, cancelations, and so forth. It’s kept backward compatible, but the new properties should allow you to make richer application views
- https is now the default. http wil keep working though, again for backward compatibility
- More alternatives added for the stations list
If you have any feedback on the documentation please do let us know!
In our next update somewhere next week, we should also be able to show occupancy estimations of trains and POST feedback on this to our API. You can follow updates on that over here: https://github.com/iRail/iRail/pull/191. We are working on this with students of Spitsgids, thanks to https://spitsgids.be.