Our team members either come from cities with public transportation systems that aren't very robust, or live in more suburban areas where there's a lack of public transportation. Since public transportation is important in reducing the amount of single driver cars (a huge contributor to carbon emissions) on the road, and we wanted to make a product that would contribute to mitigating the climate crisis, we decided that we wanted to improve public transportation systems so that they better serve the public.

What it does

Better Urban Solutions identifies disparities between public transport supply and demand. We use data to show whether a bus stop in San Francisco is utilized by enough people, and compare this with data from INRIX to better optimize the public transportation system. This program can easily be applied to different cities with access to more INRIX data along with variable dates. Furthermore with data from cities with less robust public transportation systems, the data can be easily used to identify potential candidates for new bus stop locations.

How we built it

We built the front end with angular.js, and used JavaScript and node.js for the back end. We called Open Trip Map API to obtain points of interest throughout San Francisco. Points of interest include locations such as parks, restaurants, and other areas of public interest. We then fed these points into INRIX's Trade Area Trips API to get the number of people that travel there in a week to measure population density (and cross reference this data with bus stops to see if there are enough people in that area at a given time to warrant a bus stop). We obtained data on the SF bus system to find out the locations of all bus stops in SF and the times that they were visited through text files that are freely available through the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

Challenges we ran into

No one on the team was familiar with frontend development, so using angular.js to produce a working frontend, and successfully integrating the frontend with the backend was a challenge. We also struggled to resolve the issues that we ran into when calling the APIs we were using for our project. As well as this, when integrating different parts of our project together such as acquiring data, formatting the logic, and outputting this to a finished product, we ran into many bugs that required fixing.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're proud of working as a team to come up with a viable idea that could have a real impact on people. We're also proud that we successfully used INRIX's APIS, and went a bit beyond that to produce a working product (we used INRIX's Trade Area Trips API, and the Open Trip Map API).

What we learned

We learned how to use a front end framework, and how to use APIs in an application. We found this to be an invaluable exercise in team coordination and project management. Over the span of the last 24 hours, we learned to work with one another in a fast-paced environment, and something really cool came out of it!

What's next for B.U.S. (Better Urban Solutions)

We would love to identify areas where there might be high demand for public transport that isn't getting met. We attempted to do this during the hackathon, but didn't quite get to a finished product. We wanted to use the API's utilized in the project to identify areas where there's a high density of people that's outside a reasonable radius of any public transport station, and suggest a bus stop should be created there. We believe that this could be very impactful for more suburban areas, where bus stops are much sparser than in the cities and as a result, such disparities are likely present.

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