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Open Toronto
November 3, 2009 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Toronto's Open Civic Data. The city of Toronto has released its data to the world via the new Open Toronto initiative: geographic data for a variety of civic divisions, lists of licensed business, public transit stops, routes & schedules, a SOAP-based geocoding API and more.
posted by GuyZero (30 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Toronto is awesome.
posted by chunking express at 10:44 AM on November 3, 2009


They have been answering questions about this stuff on Twitter. Apparently the TTC trip planner is going to be released at the end of this month, and all the data for that will be online as well.
posted by chunking express at 10:45 AM on November 3, 2009


There is TTC data online now but not in the very-popular and much-more-useful GTFS format.
posted by GuyZero at 10:51 AM on November 3, 2009


What, bus stops were a secret before now???
posted by HuronBob at 10:59 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not that they were secret, they were hard to find/
posted by kuatto at 11:02 AM on November 3, 2009


And U of T's computer science lecturers rejoiced. Group projects for everyone!
posted by anthill at 11:05 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, bus stops were a secret before now???

No, but there was no single list of all the bus stops and their lat/long locations. Parks weren't secret before either but now there's an ESRI shapefile that has all their names, locations and outlines.

None of this data is rocket science stuff, it's all stuff the city has had for ages. It's just that the city finally came up with the idea that other people might want the data as well.
posted by GuyZero at 11:08 AM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yay data!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:11 AM on November 3, 2009


Exactly. It's not like people can't look up bus stops and times on maps or ask operators or whatever. That's not particularly useful if you want to do interesting stuff using computers.

WELCOME TO 2004!?
posted by chunking express at 11:14 AM on November 3, 2009


What, bus stops were a secret before now???

Also, I once had a transit person tell me that the security people for this transit agency didn't detailed electronic scheduled released because ti was a security risk.

They honestly thought it was a security risk to tell people when the train was going to stop at each station and the location of the train stations.

Thankfully rational thinking prevailed.
posted by GuyZero at 11:25 AM on November 3, 2009


The lack of TTC information has always been a rather gaping hole in Google's trip planner. Especially given that Google has transit information for the massive urban centers of Missoula, Montana, and Norman, Oklahoma.

I mean, they do have York Region Transit schedules, but from what I've seen, that's rather useless, as everyone in York Region owns a gigantic SUV.
posted by oaf at 11:35 AM on November 3, 2009


Thankfully rational thinking prevailed.

Yeah, good thinking. Now anyone can get this information. ANYONE!

I love Toronto.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:39 AM on November 3, 2009


The city of Toronto has released its data to the world

"The world?" Look, I love T-Dot and just booked 10 days there with my partner over Xmas, but do you TOers really think "the world" cares?

You can get property assessments for any address in town at Calgary's city website. No matter how amazing I find this utility it would never occur to me to write, "The city of Calgary has released its property assessments TO THE WORLD."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:02 PM on November 3, 2009


Do you TOers really think "the world" cares?

Like the rest of the world has anything better to do?
posted by chunking express at 12:03 PM on November 3, 2009


Also, I once had a transit person tell me that the security people for this transit agency didn't detailed electronic scheduled released because ti was a security risk.

They honestly thought it was a security risk to tell people when the train was going to stop at each station and the location of the train stations.

Thankfully rational thinking prevailed.


VIA Rail sidesteps this by issuing fake schedules on their website. It may read that travel between Toronto and Montreal will take five hours, but in reality it will take eight. |Suck on that, terrorists!

------

I should also point out that the TTC is both confrontational and defensive when it comes to IT. Regular readers of the Torontoist site will recall reorts on the TTC's regular attempts to quash user-built sites that do the things -- like trip planning -- that the TTC's site ought to do but doesn't. They seem quite indifferent to communicating any information to riders. Last I checked, Toronto was the only major city in this country that did not have a bus-check system (wherein you could dial a number for each stop and hear an automated message indicating when the next bus will arrive). The odd thing is that ten years ago the TTC did this, but this sustem was not Y2K-compliant and had not been replaced when I left Toronto about five years later. This is about the only Y2K problem I can recall anywhere.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:05 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can get property assessments for any address in town at Calgary's city website. No matter how amazing I find this utility it would never occur to me to write, "The city of Calgary has released its property assessments TO THE WORLD."

Speaking for Toronto, it's not our fault Calgary sucks.
posted by mightygodking at 12:08 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


but do you TOers really think "the world" cares?

It's an idiom? Do you guys have idioms in Calgary?
posted by GuyZero at 12:19 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yet, Toronto is still not on the list of cities supported by Google Map's transit planner. Why is this?
posted by reformedjerk at 12:28 PM on November 3, 2009


Data, yearning to be free...
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:00 PM on November 3, 2009


It's true. Here is an example from a programming manual used at the University of Calgary:
    int main() 
    {
           printf("Hello Calgary!");
           return 0;
    }

posted by ManInSuit at 2:04 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


And yet, Toronto is still not on the list of cities supported by Google Map's transit planner. Why is this?

Google Transit coverage is odd. Why are California and Virginia so well covered?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:46 PM on November 3, 2009


Virginia isn't really any more or less well-covered than any other state, it just has a lot of tiny transit agencies. California is pretty well covered because Google is located in the Bay Area and coverage in the LA area only arrived in the last several months.

There are lots of reasons that Google Transit coverage is the way it is. Were I able to explain it all it would make sense, more or less.
posted by GuyZero at 3:21 PM on November 3, 2009


ethnomethodologist - hey shaddup. I need people to think that Toronto is like San Francisco but with a little snow, so that we can maybe get $750k for our house in the near future.

Seriously, it's long overdue that Toronto opened its city data. We're kinda slow when it comes to proactive steps.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:21 PM on November 3, 2009


Also, to be generic, to get into Google Transit you need to export your transit agency's data in GTFS format. The latest versions of transit planning applications like Hastus and Trapeze generate GTFS with a single click but agencies with older versions of these apps or agencies who don't use these apps have varying amounts of difficulty generating GTFS. This is not the sole reason, but it's one reason why agencies may or may not be included in Google Transit.
posted by GuyZero at 3:25 PM on November 3, 2009


As long as it shows the nearest stops to all Tim Horton's.
posted by webhund at 7:21 PM on November 3, 2009


"The world?" Look, I love T-Dot and just booked 10 days there with my partner over Xmas, but do you TOers really think "the world" cares?

yes, don't you understand? we're Toronto.
posted by jb at 7:35 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


yes -- and I used to call that TTC info when-is-the-next-bus-coming number all the time. I was so upset when they discontinued it.
posted by jb at 7:36 PM on November 3, 2009


As long as it shows the nearest stops to all Tim Horton's.

That would be all of the stops.
posted by srboisvert at 3:17 AM on November 4, 2009


"What, bus stops were a secret before now???"

It's not that they're secret it the city wanted to charge you for telling you were they are.

It's the same here. The city has detailed GIS files on everything from the location of fire hydrants to bus stops to road signs plus annotated single and double line coverage. Data compiled with tax funding. And they charge a license fee to use it. I could understand a copying fee even if the bookkeeping would be more than the cost nowadays but the city considers this data a revenue stream.
posted by Mitheral at 6:44 AM on November 4, 2009


My wife just made a request for some data. Should be interesting to see how long the process takes to get stuff online, if they'll put stuff online, etc.
posted by chunking express at 6:50 AM on November 4, 2009


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