by Rebecca Merrett

Updated: New NSW transport apps in the works

Oct 03, 20147 mins

Transport for NSW, in partnership with Deloitte, has announced the winning entries from its Codeworks hackathon, which took place 20-21 September.

Nearly 100 hackers participated in the event, with 29 teams tinkering away to build customer-facing apps for mostly road drivers to get them to and from their destinations faster, easier and more comfortably.

The datasets used came from:

  • New real-time roads data that offers a predictive capability for road travel time information for a route
  • Road hazards such as the number and type of incidents, fires, floods, alpine conditions, major events, roadworks and traffic cameras feeds
  • Real-time public transport data
  • Timetables, routes and stops.
  • Transport Data Exchange (TDX) was the main source for static public transport data and roads hazard data.

    Transport for NSW said it expects the apps to be released in coming months, around January 2015.

    The eight teams that won were:

    Transnotion/Little Wheels: Carpooling app for parents.

    It is designed to help cut down peak hour morning traffic and reduce congestion around school zones, as well as help parents cut down on their fuel consumption.

    The team found 20 per cent of morning traffic is school drop-offs, with parents spending 20 to 50 hours a month driving around their children.

    The app will be ID and school verified, with GPS tracking of the driver.

    The team built the app using Ruby on Rails, Javascript, HTML/CSS, Google Maps and Geolocator. The team is planning to incorporate Veda identity verification API, Google Calendar API, GoogleMap GPS tracking, and text messaging APIs such as Twilio.

    Next steps is to have real-time ETA updates using RTA traffic data, messaging between parents and an in-app calendar that syncs with the parent’s calendar.

    “What Little Wheels wants to do is make the lives of the 2.2 million Australian households with kids in primary school easier,” said Jade Feng, a member of the team.

    “We are solving traffic congestion during peak hours, kids being late to class or getting picked up late, safety and reliability with carpooling arrangements, the difficulty for parents when trying to find and co-ordinate with another parent, and, of course, all while saving the environment.”

    OzPoint: Trip planner for delivery drivers.

    The mobile app, EasyDrop, provides a Web dashboard for planning delivery schedules, with schedules displayed and vehicles tracked. It also allows the driver to collect proof of delivery such as a signature, photos and notes.

    Using real-time traffic data, the app will be able to re-calculate schedules as traffic issues arise.

    “This will provide a better ETA for customers. And, most of all, it will contribute to the reduction of traffic congestion since our hopefully thousands of users will be able to avoid traffic and execute their schedules in a much smarter way,” said Ricardo Buccianti, a member of the team. supports the back end of the app, with Bootstrap/Angular JS supporting the Web dispatching tool and Objective-C/Java for mobile.

    Compiling: Multiple transport options are compared to determine the quickest and easiest way.

    The Commute app learn the user’s frequent routes to make travel suggestions based on the time of day and date, and combine that with locational data.

    “It uniquely adapts to each user’s lifestyle, creating a personalised and tailored experience. Commute will automatically show frequent destinations, users can choose the destination, or simply enter a new desired destination,” said Chao Mander, a member of the team.

    Apple programming language Swift was used to build the app, with NodeJS and MongoDB supporting the database. The team designed the app using Sketch App, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. A modified version of Open Trip Planner was implemented for analysing Transport for NSW’s General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data.

    Hot Chocolate: Makes end-to-end road journeys more enjoyable with calendar integration.

    The team further built on the existing Snarl Traffic app by providing real-time travel planning and alerts. It also uses voice, email, calling and push notifications.

    More than 100,000 people use Snarl Traffic each month. “With such a large user base we will also be able to enhance Transport NSW’s data offering by allowing access to adverse road conditions our users discover and record,” said Darren McKee from Snarl, a team member.

    Developers from Chocolate Coded and Innovonics also made up the team.

    The app is built in Objective-C and Java, with MongoDB, NodeJS and PHP supporting the server side.

    AppJourney: Road travellers experiencing congestion select the most optimal and safe route for their journey.

    The Auto app calculates the most optimal route by factoring in road incidents, assessing public transport alternatives, and analysing users’ contacts and calender to see their planned schedules for the day.

    It does all that automatically, without the user having to input any information, aggregating information from multiple sources.

    The app is for iOS only, leveraging a number of services and tools unique to Apple’s platform. Node.js supports the back end, integrating real-time transit data.

    Toastedmint: Optimises road users’ journeys.

    Team member Alistair Phillips – who also developed My Opal, which lets users track their Opal card balance and journey history – said the app is to ensure users “arrive at their destination at the right time, [while] allowing them to avoid areas with incidents and/or congestion”.

    The app was written in Objective C, with PHP supporting the server side. The app will initially be for iPhone.

    The next step is to incorporate TDX data such as Live Traffic NSW and General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data to allow the app to take public transport options into account.

    SkedGo: Real-time road information to travellers in the context of their trip with calendar integration.

    The team added to their TripGo app that factors in all modes of transport – including cycling, walking and car share – to find the most convenient trip. Users can also compare time, cost and carbon emissions per mode of transport.

    It links with a user’s calendar to automatically plan trips between home, work and meetings, as well as sends alerts for when it’s time to start a travel journey.

    The datasets used were OpenStreetMap for the road network, public transport, airport shuttle bus from Jayride, car share from GoGet and CarNextDoor. The team also privately sourced data for tolls, car parks and driving time estimates.

    “TripGo works in dozens of cities around the world but Sydney is our ‘show pony’ as it’s our home city and there’s lots of useful data available,” said Adrian Schoenig, a member of the team.

    To support the back end, the team implemented algorithms in Java, and used IntelliJ as the IDE. “We used to use Amazon Web Services but quickly found out that it’s cheaper and faster to have our own servers,” Schoenig added.

    Objective-C Xcode for iOS, Java IntellijJ for Android, IntelliJ, GWT, Java and JavaScript support the front end.

    Somecat Studio: Assists travellers in finding a departure time or mode of transport that can reduce their travel time.

    The Commuter NSW app provides offline timetables for each scheduled bus, train, ferry and tram across NSW, and helps users find the nearest mode of transport.

    The app was developed on Xcode using Objective C. The datasets used were TDX static data and real-time road and public transportation data.

    “Transport for NSW will now continue to work with each winner in the coming weeks with the view of turning their ideas into actual products that consumers can use and value,” said Transport for NSW deputy director general, customer experience Tony Braxton-Smith.

    “The concepts are quite diverse so it will be an exciting time to see how they all gradually turn into products that have the potential of benefiting up to 5 million people who currently hold vehicle licences in this state.”

    The winners will receive cloud hosting worth up to $10,000 from Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, promotional support and investment into mentorship and incubation.

    This article was updated on 15 October 2014 for the purpose of adding information.