I have to get this of my chest, I wanted to do a BarCamp presentation about it, but I can’t wait … So here is my small rant!
In Belgium we have a public transportation company, NMBS(trains). The NMBS has a pretty good website, so it’s relatively easy to find the correct times of trains and since I’m an avid train traveler. It’s really necessary being able to quickly check what time your train leaves or at what time you’re going to arrive somewhere.
But mobility is strangled into our daily lives, strangled into our professional and private life. So why isn’t it possible to integrate the mobility data of the trains in more life-managing-applications like Outlook, Google Calendar, … But also more specific needs for example school lesson schedules, contact information of companies, … So integration of relevant travel info with time data would be incredibly useful.
If you have a good database (which I hope nmbs.be has), it shouldn’t be to difficult to build a web service on top of it. Or am I wrong? The data is already public, so you don’t really have security issues.
These are the first 3 methods I would love to play with:
Parameters: Stationname & Time
Returns: all the trains on a certain time, different directions with all the stations which are reachable. Maybe station location info.
Parameters: Start station name & Destination station name
Returns: route & possible times of departure.
Returns: List of stations in a certain state.
Of course this is really basic, just to give you an idea how cool this could be.
I think it would really be an added value for a lot of applications. I’m just going to list a few example mashup/applications I’m thinking about: Decent mobile interface (do they currently have on?), iPhone interface, google maps mashup, integration on the contact information of company websites, school websites (integration in lesson schedule), integration on the website of Brussels airport, … I really think the possibilities are endless.
So my message to the NMBS web staff, please guys … open up your database, give us a nice web service to play with. The mashups will be stunning!
What would you make with the NMBS web service?