Jan. 25 marked the formal launch of BART's expanded API. API stands for Application Programming Interface - sets of routines, data structures and protocols that support the building of applications. BART has a long commitment to making its data open to the public - such as the schedules for trains, and advisories when there are delays. We were the first Bay Area transit agency to provide public open data, starting in 2007.
The ways the public
gets that data have evolved and expanded over time, as new technologies have
come along to deliver information faster, more accurately and on a plethora of
platforms. In the past the public got data from BART directly – they went to
the QuickPlanner on the main website, or called the phone lines, or looked at
an electronic sign in a station, or, more recently, used a mobile device to
access our mobile site, or to get an email or text message sent directly from
us to you.
And customers still
can. But BART wants to tap into the rich vein of innovation that already exists
here in the Bay Area, and make our data available to developers who can use it
to create services our customers want. The API does just that. It makes
publicly available more BART data than ever before, and does so in a way that
developers can use more easily.
The BART API will help
developers make apps for whatever BART customers need. And, with a developer e-mail list and
an online discussion group that BART sponsors for developers, the agency can be
a liaison to help convey customer needs to them.
BART is asking customers
to give a little thought to what kinds of data-related products or services
might improve their BART experience. Some applications (some free and some for
a fee, available on multiple platforms and devices) already exist and are
listed in BART’s app center.
BART will collect
those thoughts to share with developers. The agency doesn’t endorse any
particular application, but wants to encourage competition and innovation that
will result in the best possible products and services for the BART customer.