Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Non-gaussian noise in the Pittsburgh machine

So how far have we come in bringing Pittsburgh into the 21st century? Today its all about open data. PG: Expert to evangelize in Pittsburgh for open data.

But we have been communicating data for a long time. Note coincidentally the Trib has a piece on the 50th anniversary of the touch tone phone:50 years ago, touch-tone phones began a communication revolution.   If it were me, I would have added a little context of local businesses that still use their trusty rotary dial. Why I dunno, but they are out there. I wonder, is it cheaper to keep your rotary service?  I wonder if young'uns even know how to use rotary dials any longer. It is not completely intuitive.

Most don't quite get what we mean when we talk about open data.  Reminds me of the great video of the disruptive technology of a half century earlier, the direct dial (rotary) phone.  It required an entirely new (think about how different it was) way of thinking about the phone, and thus required some training (see below, h/t to UCLA Professor Daniel Mitchell for posting some years ago). So a phone is a phone is about as true as data is data.  We need a training video on open data.  That or come to a live session tomorrow in Oakland. Subtle, eh?

and just for good measure since we are talking about phone history... How about Pittsburgh's phone history and Mayor Flaherty's historic first call using AT&T's picturephone, a service predicted to grow rapidly at the time. It did last longer than Qube did, but not by much. This was the start of the entire service and originally the system was only within Pittsburgh.  So don't think the Pittsburgh on the technology cutting edge story is something new for the record.  Anyway, watch Pete in action:

But back to our open data quest.  Still a long way to go.  Note the big news recently that real time bus location will be available on the East BuswayOpen Data?  Not! or at least not yet. Data is still locked into a proprietary system that would not even be necessary if the data were just made available. Probably cheaper to implement and if opened up, I just have a feeling there are more than a few able programmers in town who would make great use of the data quickly and across a wide range of mediums. 

Addendum: See comments, but subsequent to that news story it appears the raw data for the EBA real time data is online in what looks like a valid gtfs feed no less.  I am not sure the world is fully aware of that, but not to quibble... big progress! Now if we can just get a real time feed of data from all those newfangled parking machines throughout the city.  ;-0