Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2017

schedule

Citybikes

Bike sharing networks around the world


Some years ago we wanted to create an android app for our local bike sharing system and found out there was no open data available for us to do so. Other systems around the world had exactly the same problem.

Instead of creating yet-another-app, we created Citybikes, a project that provides bike sharing data for apps, research and projects to use.

To date Citybikes supports more than 400 cities and the Citybikes API is the most widely used dataset for building bike sharing transportation projects.

Many years ago we built a FOSS Android application for our local bike sharing system. After realizing global bike sharing information was not publicly available we ended up going after the task of solving the problem for once and for all: a free and open API for others to create applications, visualizations and research on bike sharing data. Fast forward today and thanks to the community, the CityBikes project supports more than 400 cities all around the world and our API powers most bike sharing transportation apps on all platforms.

The CityBikes project is a good example of the benefits on the so-called "open data". When data is made available, the community is eager to contribute to and improve public services. We are usually regarded as an "open data project", even though less than 10% of our data feeds come from properly licensed, documented and machine readable feeds. Our project showcases the need of a better policy than the PSI Directive [2] regarding re-use of public sector information, and some common misconceptions between representation and data.

The main problem with the PSI Directive is that it does not take into account Public-Private partnerships (PPP). If data ownership or re-use is left out of the deal, the company kidnaps the data and leaves both the city council and its citizens at the mercy of the company providing the service. That is, only the company (or any other company in agreement with the "umbrella company") is to provide applications to use their systems. We as citizens should demand that any project that comes as a result of a public-private partnership should put the data right where it belongs: the public.

When I started this project on the year 2010 little did I know I would end up battling city councils and companies to release their data as public feeds, nor I could imagine pybikes [3] was going to help create apps for all platforms [4] without having to code a single line.

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