Soft-launching occupancy scores in the API
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