UrbanThings Announces Partnership with Ticketer

Mobile app specialists UrbanThings have recently entered into a partnership with leading ticketing platform Ticketer. The two companies will jointly develop a range of innovative mobile applications.

The partnership will involve close collaboration between the two companies, with UrbanThings developing pioneering mobile apps for Ticketer with features ranging from live public transit times to intelligent journey planning and future innovative applications.

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Visit to Downing Street

I was delighted to be invited to 10 Downing Street today, as part of a group of small businesses led by Enterprise Nation.

The purpose of our visit was to meet with Daniel Korski, the Prime Minister’s deputy policy advisor, to relay our feedback with regards to government support of small businesses.  I was pleased to prepare the following points for contribution to the discussion:

Carl P at Number 10Public Transportation Data should be Public

UrbanThings empowers intelligent mobility and we do this by working with public datasets of transportation data.  However, there exists no mandate for bus and rail operators to release such valuable information as Open Data.  Given that such operators are subsidised by the public purse, and the obvious value of this data, we think that such a mandate is necessary and should form a key part of the actual franchise agreement to which operators subscribe.  A great place to make a start at enforcing this would be the forthcoming Buses Bill.

Anecdotally, we have heard that some operators are opposed to these measures not because of any fundamental opposition to the concept of data sharing, but because of a fear that greater scrutiny of their data might result in levies or fines, for example, from the Transport Commissioner.  We would urge the government to offer the necessary reassurance to operators that opening up their data for the wider good would not lead to such punitive measures.

We would draw attention to Transport for London’s Open Data policy, a perfect example of an unrestricted policy that has reaped rewards in the nation’s capital.  TfL make all their operational data available for free, and this approach has fostered a rich marketplace of application development that, in turn, encourages increased footfall back to the operator, completing the perfect circle.

London Tech Recruitment is Tough!

We’re fortunate to have an amazing team here at UrbanThings, but getting the right people has seemed, at times, impossible.  A basic supply shortage combined with an anecdotal talent drain into fintech can make it extremely hard for SMEs to recruit the top talent that they need to compete on a global stage.  While we’re not positioned to offer a cast-iron solution to these woes, we would suggest consideration of the following measures that would help SMEs to compete:

  • Extended financial support for SMEs in their crucial early stages, for example an increase to the Employment Allowance or the ability to reclaim the first £20,000 of PAYE for companies with less than 5 employees operating in the technology sector.
  • Address the issue of supply with an increased focus on technology and programming in UK curriculums from an early age.

I was most grateful to Daniel for listening to our wider points, to Enterprise Nation for arranging the visit and I very much hope that our feedback will be taken on board.  Sadly I also forgot to nick any Downing Street loo roll, so came away with only the memories.

Bristol API Hackathon 3

Saturday saw the UrbanThings team head west for Bristol API Hackathon 3. Hosted at Just Eat’s Bristol HQ, the Connecting Bristol event was a sell-out with dozens of eager developers arriving for a day of hacking.

October’s challenge was how to ‘Travel Bristol (on a budget)’, and our eager coders spent the day combining both concepts while the Just Eat Tech team provided pizza after pizza – a solid must have for any developer… but thankfully the beer fridge wasn’t opened until the afternoon!

We were also treated to some futuristic gadgets, including a robot on wheels and a Microsoft HoloLens – see judge Suzanne Wilson trying it out below. 🙂


At the end of the day, each team presented their solutions to a packed crowd, and the pitches were judged by representatives from UrbanThings and Connecting Bristol.

We had some fantastic presentations, including a highly commended one from Team Street Art who developed a creative way to encourage walking round the city by planning journeys via street art. This was achieved by mashing up geotagged photos from the Flickr API with journey planning from Google and the Bristol API.

Saturday’s winners were Peter Bridger, Andy MacLean, Luke Parry and Daniel Williams of This Is Zone with their innovative solution for analysing people’s commutes and suggesting ways to save money. The winning solution used data from the Bristol API, including our journey planning endpoints, and the team also presented a skillfully designed prototype app.

As well as winning £100 on the day, This Is Zone are now in with a chance of winning a £1000 digital workshop with leading creative agency Big Mallet.

Thank you to Just Eat Tech for hosting and feeding us all, and keep watching this space for details of the next hackathon.

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UrbanThings: A TfL Hackathon winner

After an exciting and busy week of hacking, Friday the 30th of September saw TfL’s Data in Motion Hackathon draw to a close. Teams were invited to present their ideas to a panel that consisted of representatives from TfL, Geovation and Amazon Web Services.

We are pleased to reveal that UrbanThings was named as one of the winners. After a tense period of deliberation, the judges reviewed the entries and were particularly impressed by our Top Secret Idea™ (shhhh). As a nice bonus, we were also awarded some pretty cool prizes to take away.

It was really useful to spend a solid week generating ideas from the new datasets TfL provided, and we are looking forward to developing our idea directly with TfL as they seek to maximise transport capacity throughout the capital.

Watch this virtual space for the next big thing!

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Transport for London Hackathon Week

This week sees the UrbanThings team hacking their way to a potential new transport solution for TfL. The Data in Motion event was launched on Friday the 23rd of September at Amazon’s Holborn headquarters with talks from TfL, Amazon Web Services, Geovation and King’s College London.

Friday’s launch invited developers, digital start-ups and anyone with a passion for data, to build an application to help manage capacity on London’s transport network.

TfL’s challenge for UrbanThings is:

• Understanding the capacity of the transportation networks in real time
• Detecting incidents and their impact on network capacity in real time
• Visualising the state of the networks and predicting how they will look into the near future


Launch event speakers included TfL’s Rikesh Shah on open data, Alan Bristow on roads and Lucy Fish on network capacity. Plus Kris Burtwistle from Amazon Web Services, Alex Wrottesley from Geovation, and a talk on air pollution by Andrew Grieve of King’s College Environmental Research Group.
 
The UrbanThings team has been reviewing the data, and distilling our ideas into a clear concept that we’re looking forward to presenting to the judges later this week at Amazon’s Holborn office. Fingers crossed we can (hopefully) wow the judges!
 

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Infographic, header image and group Q&A image courtesy of Transport for London

API Hackathon 3: Travel Bristol (on a Budget)

The next Bristol API Hackathon date will be Saturday 8th October and UrbanThings are excited to be visiting Just Eat’s Bristol HQ with Connecting Bristol.

October’s event is going to be focused on ideas for innovative solutions for getting around Bristol while saving money – hopefully a useful one for cash-conscious students! Our development and platform team will be on hand to provide technical tips and we look forward to hearing all your ideas. The day’s most innovative solution wins £100 – plus the chance to win a £1000 digital workshop with leading creative agency Big Mallet.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite – book now to secure your free place.