ITO World, an Ipswich-based transport data company supported in its early days with funding from The Intelligent Transport Systems and Services Innovation Platform (a programme underway as the Technology Strategy Board was itself being formed), yesterday announced the fruits of a new partnership with Google, that, for the first time, enables Google Maps to offer comprehensive public transport travel data across Britain.
Pointing to World Bank data finding that more than 70% of the world’s population doesn’t own a car, Google Maps transit data spans six continents, 64 countries and more than 15,000 towns and cities worldwide.
As a result of the new partnership ITO World, yesterday Google were able to make the bold claim that Google Maps now includes every single public transit route in Great Britain - including bus, coach, rail, tram, metro and ferry.
Google and ITO World Partnership
The improved service is powered by ITO World’s Data Management Platform Transport DMP, that provides scheduled and real-time data feeds of the British public transport network.
According to Peter Miller, Chief Executive Officer of ITO World, “The platform … (allows) us to collate, aggregate and enrich data from various open sources before converting and serving it to our clients in the format they require.”
ITO World was established in Ipswich in 2006, and specialises in in open data, geo-analytics and real time data animation.
It’s Transport DMP service uses complex algorithms to “enhance and enrich” open data from sources including The National Public Transport Access Node database (NaPTAN), Traveline Public Transport Schedule dataset (TNDS), Transport for London and Network Rail.
David Tattersall, Product Manager for Public Transport in Google Maps, says: “Today every available train, bus, tube, tram and ferry in Great Britain are joined up by Google Maps to make a comprehensive one-stop-shop for public transport. This has been made possible by the availability of open transport data from partners like Traveline and served through ITO World.”
ITO has brought together data from several sources, offering scheduled and real-time data across rail, bus, coach, metro and tube, to create the most comprehensive and accurate transport data service for Great Britain.
Sophisticated algorithms are used to automatically improve the data and ensure consistency across transport modes - absolutely essential, according to the compnay, to deliver true end-to-end journey planning solutions. The data is refined using a variety of auxiliary data, for better navigation results and a richer, more reliable user experience.
Transport DMP is updated in real-time so that changes to service schedules and even individual journeys are available to present the most up-to-date data.
Winner of the 2006 Future Intelligent Transport Systems competition contributed to over 200 innovations
ITO World was supported in its very early days as a result of a grant of £206,000, received due to its its successful entry to the November 2006 Future Intelligent Transport Systems competition.
The Department for Transport (DfT), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) sponsored a small number of consortia to address research for the longer-term development of the UK transport system.
The Intelligent Transport Systems and Services Innovation Platform was part of the Transport Innovation fund launched in July 2005 to support the development of transport schemes. Its steering group was chaired by the Technology Strategy Board member Julia King.
The five year ITO World and Ordnance Survey collaborative project Ideas in Transit project brought together expertise in travel behaviour, user-centred design, data management and visualisation and open innovation.
Ideas in Transit claims to have contributed to over 200 innovations, including in:
Google Maps now has 17,000 routes across the UK
Google Maps has included public transit routes and schedules since 2007 - and claims that the bus, train, tram and subway routes included travel 200 million kilometres every day - the equivalent, it says, of driving every single road in the world three times.
Google Maps is available for iPhone, Android and desktop versions - and, as a result of the deal with ITO World, now claims to be a comprehensive one-stop-shop for public transport across Great Britain, with time and route information for millions of departures for trains, tubes, trams, buses and ferries.
In total, 17,000 different routes in the UK are featured, from Land’s End to John O’Groats (a journey that will take you about about 27 hours by foot, train and bus).
In a blog post by David Tattersall, Product Manager for the Google Maps said, “You'll now know when the next trip is departing, how many stops and how far your walk is between each station. You can also pick your preferred method of travel and whether you'd rather walk less or make fewer transfers, so you can compare and choose the best option for you.”
National rail data and public transport information is already available in Google Maps for some cities like London, but Google now claims coverage across the whole of Great Britain.
Googlepointed to data contributors that helped make this happen; it added schedules from National Express, and partnered with Traveline which collates the information from nearly 1,500 local and national operators like Centro.
Traveline Information Ltd is a partnership of transport operators and local authorities formed to provide impartial and comprehensive information about public transport. It operates in Scotland, England and Wales.
Traveline started operating in 2000, first providing a telephone service, then an Internet and more recently an SMS text and NextBuses mobile internet service.
Traveline's Advisory Group involves representatives of:
Getting transit information that works from your local
David Tattersall relates that his own journey with Google Maps started in a pub near Chester four years ago when he wanted to demonstrate a product he’d been working on to a friend: public transport in maps.
“Searching for directions to the town centre and even though the number 1 bus from Wrexham to Chester ran right past the pub, it wasn’t even listed as an option.”
Now he sates, “You can now get public transport directions for everything from cross-country trips, to timings for the local village bus, to the St. Mawes ferry in Cornwall which will save you a 55 minute journey over land to Falmouth. The number 1 bus to Chester town centre is also listed.”
Crowdsourced traffic data from Android and Google Maps users
In addition to public transport travel route information, Google Maps offers driving, walking, cycling and air travel directions.
Its driving information includes traffic and roadwork delay information.
Early versions of Google Maps provided information to users about how long it would take to travel a particular road in heavy traffic conditions. Traffic information was based on historical traffic data, but in 2007, Google started to offer traffic data in real-time.
The source of this data is users of the product. Mobile devices that use Google's Android operating system are equipped with the ability to send location data to Google, while non-Android users that allow the Google Maps app to share data are also able transmit their location data to Google. Options in each phone's settings allow users not to share information about their location with Google Maps.
Google Traffic works by analysing these GPS-determined locations; by calculating the speed of users along a stretch of road, Google is able to generate a live traffic map.
According to Wikipedia, Google processes the incoming raw data about device locations, and then excludes anomalies such as a postal vehicle which makes frequent stops. When a threshold of users in a particular area is noted, the overlay along roads and highways on the Google map is marked in changed colours highlighting congestion.
Forthcoming Apple iOS8 to include public transport data
The competing Apple Maps product, by contrast, currently only provides driving and walking directions, with no traffic condition data in the desktop app version, but includes live traffic data sources from TomTom in its default mobile Maps app.
Apple is expected to include public transport information with version 8 of its mobile operating system, expected to be released next month.
The company is also reported to be working on integrating indoor mapping views and enhanced car integration for future iOS versions. Apple is likely also working on an updated version of its Maps app for OS X that adds the improved data. In addition to the new mapping software, iOS 8 is planned to include an application called Healthbook to manage user fitness activity and health information.