This Cape Town taxi map shows how beautiful big data can be

whereismytransport cape town minibus taxi map

Cape Town is a large, complex city, with a mountain in the middle of it, and an ocean encompassing it. As a result, travelling from point A to point B isn’t always as simple as it should be.

With a number of different transport options, citizens are often tasked with finding the fastest way home on their own, and this WhereIsMyTransport (WIMT) saw as a massive problem.

Noting the lack information regarding the city’s informal mini bus taxi routes, the company has mapped the previously undocumented taxi route landscape of the city.

Making the informal formal through big data, maps

Dubbed the Cape Town Taxi Project, the company roped in a number of citizen surveyors to record routes and capture stopping points along Cape Town’s 1000-strong taxi routes.

According to the company, the feat is also a world-first.

whereismytransport cape town minibus taxi map 2

The surveyors used mobile tools that captured the data, which was collated and run through algorithms which helped the team to “provide estimated times even though the vehicles don’t have a set timetable”. These routes were also presented in map form — similar to the visual maps we’ve seen of Cape Town’s MyCiti system.

The project took three weeks to complete.

WhereIsMyTransport’s Cape Town minibus taxi map is big data at its beautiful best

Project coordinator Graeme Leighton explains that this survey challenged a slew of assumptions made about Cape Town’s transport systems.

“Millions of people rely on their knowledge and personal experience of the system, word-of-mouth, and the occasional signboard to figure out how to get where they’re going,” the company explains on its blog.

“There is no central source of information on the fares, routes, and frequency of the taxis—so we decided to create one.”

WhereIsMyTransport: The solution to public transport problems?

Transport IT infrastructure specialists, WhereIsMyTransport gives transport providers a platform on which to run all their daily operations such as routing, scheduling, reporting and monitoring which all form part of a package which provides commuters with mobile access to timetables and predication services. Read more…

The data, which is the result of over 13 000km of travel and by surveyors, will be made freely available to developers wanting to craft an app to serve Cape Town’s informal transport network.

According to WhereIsMyTransport, a number of developers have already expressed interested in developing apps using the data.

Nevertheless, if you want to have a look at the maps in their gorgeous entirety, crack open WIMT’s full PDF with all route data and key here.

H/T: DisruptAfrica

All images: WhereIsMyTransport

Andy Walker, former editor


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