WhereIsMyTransport maps Cape Town’s public transport network

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South African startup WhereIsMyTransport has mapped the entire public transport network of Cape Town, integrating data from both formal and informally-run transport.

Disrupt Africa reported in August of last year WhereIsMyTransport had secured investment of GBP1.165 million (US$1.536 million) to fund a new transit API, a new open information platform that collates transit data for formal and informal services and combines it with analytics capability and communication tools.

The startup has now rolled out the first such platform, meaning Cape Town has its formal and informally-run transport system data captured, integrated and openly available.

WhereIsMyTransport has used the data to create a map of the city’s most active informally-run taxi routes, visualising data from the transport information company’s open platform. Thirteen local data collectors spent under three weeks recording taxi journeys in Cape Town.

The platform will allows developers, transport operators and government officials to build solutions such as journey planners, fare estimators, communications tools and connected digital signage.

“Fully mapping Cape Town is a phenomenal achievement for our team. We’ve demonstrated that complex transport systems can be mapped at a much lower cost than many cities believe. With our efficient technology and methodology, even large cities don’t need to spend millions to map their networks,” said Devin De Vries, co-founder of WhereIsMyTransport.

“We have already mapped two more cities and will be releasing data for South Africa’s major metros this year. And that’s just the beginning: we’re excited by the potential for cities across Africa.”

Platforms for East London, South Africa and Gaborone, Botswana will be released in March 2017. WhereIsMyTransport will continue collecting taxi network data in South African cities including Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, and Bloemfontein, all due to be complete by mid-2017.

The company is also in discussions with cities and local partners with the intention of fully mapping 20 African cities by the end of 2018, and already holds data on informally-run networks in Accra, Ghana, and Nairobi, Kenya.

WhereIsMyTransport has also created a ‘toolkit’ to enable any individual, organisation or city to map their transport network. It includes a purpose-built app, methodology and planning techniques, and support from the WhereIsMyTransport team to make data available through the platform.

“We believe that the information challenge in South African cities undermines our infrastructure. We want to make the systems that exist more accessible for everyone. In Cape Town, every assumption we had about the network was challenged. We discovered dozens of previously unknown routes, and found many documented routes no longer operated,” said Graeme Leighton, data collection co-ordinator for WhereIsMyTransport.

“We invite others to put their own cities on the map and make their systems more accessible. Our tools are available to anyone interested in contributing to our platform, the world’s first open platform for public transport data in emerging cities.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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