A Gargantuan Challenge for The Megalopolis: Mexico City calls citizens to help map its complex public bus system

“Mexico City, the largest and oldest urban agglomeration in the American continent. The city is home to an incredible diversity of people and cultures, and its size and its diversity also poses certain challenges. In a city with such big scale (the metropolitan area measures 4,887 mi2) transportation is one of its main problems. Finding ways to improve how people move within requires imagination and cooperation from decision makers and society alike.

The scale and dynamism of Mexico City’s public transport system represents a challenge to generate quality information. Processes for the generation of mobility data are time-consuming and expensive. Given this scenario, the best alternative for the city is to include transport users in generating this information.

The megalopolis lacks an updated, open database of its more than 1,500 bus routes. To tackle this problem, Laboratorio para la Ciudad (Mexico City’s experimental office and creative think-tank, reporting to the Mayor) partnered with 12 organizations that include NGOs and  other government offices to develop Mapatón CDMX: a crowdsourcing and gamification experiment to map the city’s bus routes through civic collaboration and technology.

After one year of designing and testing a strategy, the team behind Mapatón CDMX is calling citizens to map the public transport system by participating on a city game from January 29th to February 14th 2016. The game’s goal is to map routes of licenced public transport (buses, minibuses and vans) from start to finish in order to score points, which is done through an app for Android devices that gathers GPS data from the user inside the bus.

The mappers will participate individually or in groups with friends and family for two weeks. As an incentive and once the mapping marathon is finished, those participants with higher scores will earn cash prizes and electronic devices. (A smart algorithm creates incentives to map the longest or most ignored routes, giving mappers extra points.) But what is most valuable: the data resulting will be openly available at the end of February 2016, much faster and cheaper than with traditional processes.

Mapatón CDMX is an innovative and effective way to generate updated and open information about transport routes as the game harnesses collective intelligence of the gargantuan city. Organisers consider that the open database may be used by anyone to create for example data driven policy, strategies for academic analysis, maps for users, applications, visualizations, among many other digital products….(More)”