Crowdsourcing the Status of the Bus You're Waiting For

Transit schedules, especially for buses, are notoriously inaccurate. A new app seeks to give a better picture of the status of the bus or train you keep trying to spot in the distance.
January 19, 2013, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Moovit is the name of a new app "that crowdsources data from riders to provide a more complete image of what a trip is like," explains Zak Stone. Kind of like a Yelp for transit, that also happens to track your movements, Moovit gathers information from riders to help determine whether your ride is running on schedule. "Moovit piles that crowdsourced data onto layers of information you’d expect any transit app to work with—train and bus schedules plus municipally provided real-time vehicle data (when available)—to come up with as accurate a representation of a given ride as they can muster. Using that knowledge, Moovit can then make more nuanced trip plans, suggesting alternative routes that are perhaps less crowded or quicker."

In only two months, Moovit has attracted "more than 400,000 users in seven countries and 20 major urban areas, including Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Tel Aviv, and New York." And sustaining that type of growth will be crucial to the app's success, explains Stone. "Crowdsourcing data requires a crowd after all, and unless Moovit can recruit a minimum of 20,000 to 30,000 users-cum-data gatherers in most cities it serves, the app won’t live up to its promise and could end up as just another icon cluttering your phone’s home screen. Another problem is gathering data from users when they’re in the cell phone dead zone of the subway. But according to Gigaom, Moovit has raised $3.6 million, so they’ll have a lot of time and money to figure that out."

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Published on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 in Fast Company Co.Exist
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