04 Jan 2016

Economy, Enterprise, Business and Jobs

New API unlocks travel value for Bristol

A new API (application programme interface) created by Bristol City Council will provide easy and free access to a huge wealth of transport data in one place, making it possible for innovative technologies to be developed.

The Bristol API (Transport) supports the Council’s approach to opening up data sets, as it already does through the Bristol Open Data portal and is being further developed by the Bristol Is Open project. The wider aim is to work with the tech community to explore ways to use and present the data framed around relevant and actual transport challenges in the city.

The new web-based service has been specifically designed to provide information such as live bus and train times, stop locations, route maps and other data. Developers interested in building apps, websites, connected devices or even customer information displays will be able to use transport data for Bristol and the West of England region completely free for the next year.

The Bristol API is not restricted to public transport as it also gives instant updates on occupancy in local car parks as well as electric vehicle charging locations. It is currently possible to provide live statistics on bicycle dock availability in London and New York, meaning the API will be attractive to developers who have global success in their sights and further adding to the benefits of The Bristol API.

The council’s City Innovation team appointed UrbanThings earlier this year to develop the API. UrbanThings is the company behind the successful BusChecker app, which has been downloaded more than two million times worldwide and has received significant critical acclaim. The Innovation team are therefore confident that this collaboration will be hugely beneficial for Bristol citizens and businesses.

Director of Bristol Futures Stephen Hilton said:
“The introduction of the Bristol API (Transport) is a huge step for Bristol City Council and could improve predicted timings as well as help with journey planning for the public. Using  data in this way shows how the council is actively trying to tackle the challenges in the city by collaborating with the tech community and leaders in the industry such as UrbanThings.”

Director of UrbanThings Carl Partridge said:
"UrbanThings is delighted  to be harnessing the Internet of Things to empower intelligent mobility.  We were delighted to be selected to provide this cutting-edge API and we're hoping that developers and engineers are inspired to build some amazing innovations.  We look forward to working with them to further enhance the API and help Bristol become a world-leading Smart City."

UrbanThings and Bristol City Council are running a transport-themed Challenge Event at Watershed on Saturday 23 January from 10:00-17:30. App and software developers, as well as those from the broader tech community, are invited to come along and create something innovative using the API. The developer of the most innovative creation will win a cash prize, with the year's overall winner being awarded £1,000 worth of customised app design assets from leading creative agency Big Mallet. 

There will be a series of other Challenge Events throughout 2016 looking at how to use open data.

Notes to Editors
• A BETA version of the Bristol API (Transport) went live on 7 December 2015 and became public on 14 December
• To book your free place to the Challenge Event see the EventBrite listing
• More information about UrbanThings and Bus Checker can be found via the websites www.urbanthings.co and www.buschecker.com