Transit Application Programming Interface (API)

IdeaCrew, working with the team at Google Maps, designed and developed a suite of cloud-based, GIS public transit Web services for Montgomery County, Maryland.  The Department of Transportation’s Division of Transit Service’s  Transit API published projected vehicle arrival times in real time, along with associated scheduling and public transit asset information.  

The Transit API collects real time vehicle positions reported by the county’s CAD/AVL sensors, combines these with bus route and stop locations accessed from the County’s ESRI ArcGIS database, and extends them with asset attribute and amenity information about the stops (presence of shelters, benches, etc).  The combined material is published via a RESTful Web service API using open standards, including General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and GeoJSON serialization formats.

To host and support these systems, IdeaCrew provisioned and configured an Amazon Web Services cloud hosting platform, backed by a NoSQL database, that supports high-performance, high-capacity API access for County systems, vendor applications and Internet developer needs.

GIS and Cloud-based Geo-Wiki

IdeaCrew partnered with engineering firm Stantec (formerly Greenhorne & O’Mara) in a multi-year GIS management project supporting Montgomery County, Maryland’s Department of Transportation.  The project was conducted in two phases: 1) enhancement of an existing GIS, and 2) development of an online, cloud-based geospatial wiki solution.

Initially, the agency’s GIS data was limited to a single, monolithic shapefile of bus stop  locations, which the IdeaCrew team transformed into a normalized ESRI ArcGIS geodatabase.  Under the normalization process, bus stop features were modeled and discrete bus stop amenities (e.g., shelters, benches, and trash receptacles) were separated into distinct feature classes and tables.  Among the many benefits, the normalization provided historical data for bus stop amenities.

The IdeaCrew team built an ArcMap application to support staff and management information access needs. Form-driven queries were written to enable simple retrieval of transit field asset records using a number of parameters, including intersection, transit vehicle route, and identification number.

Cloud-based GeoWiki. IdeaCrew, working with with engineering firm Stantec (formerly Greenhorne & O’Mara),  developed a cloud-based, spatially enabled, on-line GeoWiki.  Non-technical County staff and contractors use the system to access and update transportation assets in the office or the field, note damaged or missing assets, and schedule work orders for repair and replacement.

The GeoWiki si built using open source technologies, including: Mediawiki (software that powers the Internet’s Wikipedia site), and Semantic Mediawiki, a database for structuring information using the advanced Semantic Web data model. The system is spatially-enabled through access to Web services, including those provided by Esri ArcGIS Server and Google Maps.

The County’s Transit Facilities GeoWiki serves as a one-stop knowledgebase and work order system for transit facilities across the County. Non-spatial information, such as amenities (shelters, benches, trash cans), photos, and work order histories, are associated with each bus stop position and managed in the GeoWiki database.