Delay in open data policy: Bugs plague BMTC app

Delay in open data policy: Bugs plague BMTC app

BMTC app

Five years since its launch, the BMTC app is far from helping passengers plan their journeys as real-time information on bus availability remains a dream while the delay in adopting open data policy has blocked citizens’ initiatives to bridge the gap.

The BMTC launched its Android app on January 9, 2015, in a move widely recognised as the corporation’s effort to ride the digital wave. However, except for a brief period, bugs and information gaps have made app users more confused than those waiting for the bus without much hope.

Using the app to plan a trip, where commuters can search for buses to their planned destination, requires knowledge of bus routes and stops. Features like finding the bus stop or tracking buses often crash the app.

“Someone who doesn’t know names of bus stops can’t use it. The origin and destination stops have to be keyed in to track buses. I have stayed in Bengaluru for four years, and I know names of six or seven stops as bus shelters do not provide any details,” said Krishna Kumar N, who commutes from Jayanagar to KR Puram.

Rakesh Tergundi, the founder of a software company who created the app ‘RailJini’ to track suburban trains, said entrepreneurs in Bengaluru would be happy to step in and create apps if only the BMTC gave access to data.

A committee of professionals, including IIM-B professor Shankar Venkatagiri and urban transport expert Ashwin Mahesh, submitted a draft Open Data policy. “Any data that helps people know more about the BMTC services, including static data like vehicle routes and bus stops and dynamic data on real-time vehicle location, should be open to the public,” the committee had recommended.

One of the committee members said they had reassured the corporation there was no need to reveal financial data. “Our only condition was that data should be shared on an equal basis and free of cost in the beginning. We also recommended following the Centre’s policy on data,” he said.

BMTC Managing Director N V Prasad, who took over charge recently, said he had held discussions with the officials on the issue. “We will soon give access to the data. Discussions are at the final stage on the open data policy,” he said.

Sneha Kannan, a software engineer, said open access would help the growth of apps ,of which the best ones will survive. “Many IT professionals will be happy to devote time to build an app,” she said.

“Agencies like the BMTC must drive the democratisation of data as well as decision-making. They have already begun to interact with institutions like IIIT Bangalore, IISc and IIMB on an institutional sharing basis,” said Prof Venkatagiri, from the Information Systems area at IIMB.


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