20 Jul 2016

Economy, Enterprise, Business and Jobs

New app for planning days out in Bristol launches

A new app enabled by Bristol City Council has launched today (Wednesday 20 July).  

Developed through an initiative set up by the council’s City Innovation team, the Tiny Tours app uses open data to provide an easy and quick way of planning activities with little ones.

The app features a variety of fun activities and ideas for days out in Bristol targeted at families combined with live travel timings taken from open data made available by the council. The app makes it easier to organise visits in advance and on the move, which is especially useful now that the summer holidays are here!

Blue Sparrow Apps were the winners of the first Open Data Challenge Event organised by the council in January where they developed their interactive guide for families. The engagement workshop encouraged attendees to make use of a new API (application programming interface) created for the council by UrbanThings, the company behind the hugely successful BusChecker app.

The API provides developers, app makers, web designers and other people interested in city data with access to a wealth of transport data such as live bus and train times, stop locations and route maps, all of which can be accessed from the API portal. Gaining access to this rich real-time data enabled Blue Sparrow Apps to create a user-friendly resource for families and their tiny tourists.

The app has two main filters; Places which covers Parks, Free and Rainy; and Tours which features ideas for days out with names such as Culture and Cows and Country re-TREAT. The Tours section also displays the amount of time recommended at each attraction and gives a rough idea of costs (e.g. ‘Not much’ or ‘Quite a bit’) as well as showing journey planning information for traveling on foot, by bus, train or car.  

Director of the council’s Bristol Future’s Team Stephen Hilton said: “It’s fantastic to see an idea become a prototype and then be transformed into a handy tool to help people in Bristol explore the city by public transport or by car. Tiny Tours is a great example of how bringing together digital talent in Bristol with open data pioneers such as UrbanThings can produce a brilliant resource that benefits our citizens.”

The Tiny Tours app is free to download for Apple and Android phones and Blue Sparrow Apps already have plans to add more features.

James Harris, Managing Director at Blue Sparrow, said: “We are excited that this app is ready to be launched only six months after we first prototyped it at the workshop. For a small start-up like us, it is great to see the council providing opportunities like the Open Data Challenge events to develop new ideas and push us to work outside of our normal briefs. We look forward to developing Tiny Tours and would love to hear people’s feedback.”

Carl Partridge, Director of UrbanThings also praised the app, saying: “It was great meeting James and his colleague Ryan at the first engagement event where we were impressed with their idea. It’s therefore very rewarding to see this app being brought to fruition and we hope it will encourage other tech types in Bristol to sign up to the next event in the autumn.”

The next Challenge Event will take place in October and further information will be published in due course.