September 4, 2015
How often have you been late because of traffic jams, wishing you had chosen a different route or used public transportation? Endlessly looking for free parking, buses being late, wasting hours in traffic jams – all this adds to the enormous stress that residents of Russian cities are used to. The residents of Russia’s St. Petersburg should feel lucky, though. Now, thanks to a phased-in integration of open data technologies, many transportation issues will become a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, in recent years, residents of Russian cities have been facing increasing urban transport challenges. Rapid growth of cars, an outdated public transport system, and poor traffic management have made the situation much worse, with the speed of surface transit averaging 8-9 kilometers an hour at best.
St. Petersburg is facing an especially daunting challenge. The unique urban layout, multiple canals and bridges — so attractive to tourists— exacerbate the current traffic management challenges. The task at hand for the city is to improve transport infrastructure, upgrade public transport and its accessibility to increase population’s mobility.
Delivering timely information on the flow of urban traffic, providing instant access to information on traffic congestion, the availability and cost of parking spaces, and current public transit routes could go a long way towards addressing a whole range of issues.
The World Bank has presented a report titled Opportunities and Strategies for Mainstreaming Open Data in Transport Projects in St. Petersburg which suggests that the socio-economic and environmental impact of the new program to improve the urban transport could be enhanced through the use of open data when designing new information systems.