On 5-6th of June 2012 the CitySDK’s international partner consortium gathered together in Helsinki workshop. To spur the emergence of new ideas and to learn from each other’s experiences, the Partners were presented a local case of opening interfaces both from the perspectives of the public organization providing the API and from the viewpoint of the developers utilizing the interface.
Open interfaces – better services
Jari Honkonen from Helsinki Region Transport Authority (HSL) presented the case of opening public transport information interfaces. In 2009 HSL published API information online (http://developer.reittiopas.fi) and provided proper access to open data for the developers for the first time. This was the starting point for the continuous development of API resources in a close cooperation with the developer community. Today there are more than 30 mobile apps developed on HSL’s traffic information. This set of apps provides the HSL’s customers with a large service portfolio, complementing HSL’s own online Journey Planner (http://www.reittiopas.fi/en/). To encourage the development of the new apps, HSL launched together with Forum Virium HSL Apps Competition in 2011, resulting in the total of 60 submitted new mobile application proposals.
Constant work in progress
Samuel Rinnetmäki and Ilkka Pirttimaa from the local developer community, have built several apps using the APIs of the HSL. They concluded that HSL has done a good job in opening the interfaces, however, there is always room for the development. Rinnetmäki emphasized to the CitySDK partners that the cities should not be afraid of opening the interfaces even though they feel that the interfaces might be lacking information or operating inadequately. Developers love challenges, and want to develop the interfaces together with the cities in order to reach for the better results. Thus, the crucial point is to maintain communicative relationship between the developer community and the public organization, to enable a fluent flow of information and feedback.
Pirttimaa has developed several mobile apps for navigating in the city. Kyyti app came to the second place in HSL’s mobile app contest in 2011. Kyyti provides the user with the public transport timetable information, real time tracking of trams and route planning services in the Helsinki region. The user can also order a taxi or buy an SMS ticket for the public transport through Kyyti-application.