Me + CTA Consumer-Focused
Technology
Daniel X. O’Neil
@danxoneil
August 14, 2014
August 20, 2014 1
Hi.
• Dan O’Neil
• Smart Chicago
• EveryBlock
• Civic Technology
• OpenGov Chicago
• 8 Principles of Open Government Data
...
First
• I made my first civic app in 1999
• Text-based WAP systems were just
coming into general use on phones
• I tried t...
Most compelling wireless utility,
1999
August 20, 2014 4@danxoneil
Least compelling wireless utility,
1999
August 20, 2014 5@danxoneil
2003: Blogs
• In 2003, I set up a
TypePad blog for one
of my brothers
• Gave him some
training on how to
blog
• He first b...
2004: His second blog was
“CTA Tattler”
August 20, 2014 7@danxoneil
• A mass text group set up on the
UPOC.com system
• Anyone could join and let other
people know about the best
meals in Ch...
• After a security incident on the CTA during
the rush hour, I created a new mass text
group on UPOC called “CTA Alerts”
•...
August 20, 2014 10
• Shorty after we launched, the CTA signed up
and started posting
• They were by far the most prolific posters
• In fact, ...
August 20, 2014 12
• The site was very popular and the new
features we added allowed for more rider
interaction
• Streamed photos from our Fl...
August 20, 2014 14
• The CTA started doing their own alerts via
a system called, “CTA Updates”
• Using an email-based system called
GovDelive...
August 20, 2014 16
• My friend Harper Reed created a service based on
the CTA Bus Tracker
• That blew my mind
• We started working together t...
August 20, 2014 18
• It became apparent that Twitter was where
it’s at when it came to group messaging
• Duh
• So we started up a host of Twi...
August 20, 2014 20
• When the CTA launched a new website, they
also included RSS feeds for every line
• This was a big deal, because it made
...
August 20, 2014 22
• The CTA came out with the Train Tracker
• Super-great thinking– native to the web,
pure service, authoritative
• Prefato...
August 20, 2014 24
• After the API release, it allowed to create a
bare-bones dashboard of service
• Hosted at www.ctaalerts.com
• We actuall...
August 20, 2014 26
• Game-changer
• Super-solid spec
• Completely open and official
• And contained pretty much my greatest
tech victory ever...
August 20, 2014 28
• CTA came out with @cta
• Made @ctatweet basically irrelevant
• Again, the official service eclipses
unofficial
• In ways...
August 20, 2014 30
Lessons
• Light collaboration wins
• Inside/ outside
• The official service– the canonical entity–
always matters more tha...
Thanks
• Daniel X. O’Neil
• (773) 960-6045
• @danxoneil
August 20, 2014 32
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Me + CTA Consumer-Focused Technology

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An incomplete personal history of making technology alongside mighty transportation agency. This is a presentation I gave to the CTA in August 2014.

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  • Me + CTA Consumer-Focused Technology

    1. 1. Me + CTA Consumer-Focused Technology Daniel X. O’Neil @danxoneil August 14, 2014 August 20, 2014 1
    2. 2. Hi. • Dan O’Neil • Smart Chicago • EveryBlock • Civic Technology • OpenGov Chicago • 8 Principles of Open Government Data • You? August 20, 2014 2@danxoneil
    3. 3. First • I made my first civic app in 1999 • Text-based WAP systems were just coming into general use on phones • I tried to think of the most compelling use case for this technology. In other words, what can’t wait for you to get back to your desk? • The answer: Killer on the Loose • I also thought up the least compelling use August 20, 2014 3@danxoneil
    4. 4. Most compelling wireless utility, 1999 August 20, 2014 4@danxoneil
    5. 5. Least compelling wireless utility, 1999 August 20, 2014 5@danxoneil
    6. 6. 2003: Blogs • In 2003, I set up a TypePad blog for one of my brothers • Gave him some training on how to blog • He first blog was a generalized “catch- all”, focusing, in part, on the 2004 presidential electionAugust 20, 2014 6@danxoneil
    7. 7. 2004: His second blog was “CTA Tattler” August 20, 2014 7@danxoneil
    8. 8. • A mass text group set up on the UPOC.com system • Anyone could join and let other people know about the best meals in Chicago that cost less than $5 • Nobody really used it, because it was boring and lacked authority • But I learned about the group messaging platform August 20, 2014 8 2004: $5 meals in Chicago @danxoneil
    9. 9. • After a security incident on the CTA during the rush hour, I created a new mass text group on UPOC called “CTA Alerts” • It caught on pretty quickly, and users contributed tons of useful information • It grew to 600+ users in a couple of months • We were able to cover the entire system at any given time August 20, 2014 9 August 2005: CTA Alerts @danxoneil
    10. 10. August 20, 2014 10
    11. 11. • Shorty after we launched, the CTA signed up and started posting • They were by far the most prolific posters • In fact, the system had turned into a top/ down communication tool instead of a rider- to-rider tool that I had envisioned when I launched it • This was the first cycle of what would turn out to be three inside/ outside interactions where the CTA asserted primacy and made good August 20, 2014 11 January 2006: The switch from rider-to-rider to top-down @danxoneil
    12. 12. August 20, 2014 12
    13. 13. • The site was very popular and the new features we added allowed for more rider interaction • Streamed photos from our Flickr group • Streamed RSS feeds of news, blogs, and mentions of the CTA • Put the alerts front & center August 20, 2014 13 January 2006: Relaunch of CTA Tattler @danxoneil
    14. 14. August 20, 2014 14
    15. 15. • The CTA started doing their own alerts via a system called, “CTA Updates” • Using an email-based system called GovDelivery • Not awesome, too slow • CTA also reduced postings to the CTA Alerts system August 20, 2014 15 2008: The Age of GovDelivery @danxoneil
    16. 16. August 20, 2014 16
    17. 17. • My friend Harper Reed created a service based on the CTA Bus Tracker • That blew my mind • We started working together to interact with the CTA • Over-arching scrape was overwhelming them • Buster was using the endpoints • They had just updated the code from a Java applet • Pittsburgh, Baltimore, DC • Inside/ Outside August 20, 2014 17 August 2008: Harper Reed’s Unofficial Transit API @danxoneil
    18. 18. August 20, 2014 18
    19. 19. • It became apparent that Twitter was where it’s at when it came to group messaging • Duh • So we started up a host of Twitter accounts around the concept of @ctatweet • I warned, when we launched it, that it might be lame • It kind of was August 20, 2014 19 September 2008: Launch of CTA Tweet @danxoneil
    20. 20. August 20, 2014 20
    21. 21. • When the CTA launched a new website, they also included RSS feeds for every line • This was a big deal, because it made @ctatweet a ton better • The CTA also made operational changes to support this service • Six full-time External Customer Communication Coordinators who work inside the CTA Control Center • This was an improvement on GovDelivery August 20, 2014 21 December 2008: CTA Launches RSS Feeds for Every Line @danxoneil
    22. 22. August 20, 2014 22
    23. 23. • The CTA came out with the Train Tracker • Super-great thinking– native to the web, pure service, authoritative • Prefatory to a full API • When I wrote about it as a beta tester, I pointed this out August 20, 2014 23 January 2011: CTA Train Tracker @danxoneil
    24. 24. August 20, 2014 24
    25. 25. • After the API release, it allowed to create a bare-bones dashboard of service • Hosted at www.ctaalerts.com • We actually never really paid a world of attention to this • In part because the CTA was doing a great job • And in part because Harper became the CTO of the Obama re-election campaign August 20, 2014 25 2011: The Launch of CTAAlerts.com @danxoneil
    26. 26. August 20, 2014 26
    27. 27. • Game-changer • Super-solid spec • Completely open and official • And contained pretty much my greatest tech victory ever August 20, 2014 27 2011: CTA Alerts API @danxoneil
    28. 28. August 20, 2014 28
    29. 29. • CTA came out with @cta • Made @ctatweet basically irrelevant • Again, the official service eclipses unofficial • In ways that serve the public August 20, 2014 29 November 2011: @cta @danxoneil
    30. 30. August 20, 2014 30
    31. 31. Lessons • Light collaboration wins • Inside/ outside • The official service– the canonical entity– always matters more than anyone else August 20, 2014 31
    32. 32. Thanks • Daniel X. O’Neil • (773) 960-6045 • @danxoneil August 20, 2014 32

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