Some CTA Hacks

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My part of a presentation given with Harper Reed and Jon Trowbridge on April 10, 2009-- "Hacking the CTA"

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Some CTA Hacks

  1. 1. Some CTA Hacks 2003 - present Daniel X. O’Neil, April 10, 2009
  2. 2. Background • 2003: I set up my brother, Kevin O’Neil, with a TypePad account • He started “KJO’s Catchalls”, where he-- among other things-- wrote about how he wish George Bush wasn’t the President of the United States
  3. 3. Then he launched CTA Tattler • Pretty popular • Lots of readers and comments • Has a pretty good community • Started to be an unofficial outlet for info
  4. 4. July 2005 • Bomb scare on the Blue Line • Lack of effective communication at the station level • People used CTA Tattler as an avenue for gripes • But in these gripes was gold
  5. 5. Tons of details-- but wrong place, wrong time
  6. 6. Enter UPOC • I had worked with a free wireless notification utility at www.upoc.com and thought it might be useful
  7. 7. So I started CTA Alerts • Rider-to-rider communication in the event of service disruption or emergency on the Chicago Transit Authority. • The CTA itself immediately got involved-- approved at a CTA Board Meeting days after launch • For years, they used the system as a quasi- official outlet for information
  8. 8. Some username issues at first
  9. 9. Keys to loosely coupled relationships with government • Community/ constituency • No cost to entry • Responsible, reliable developers • Lack of contracts or formal responsibilities • Tone of cooperation-- trust
  10. 10. The relationship has continued • Through leadership changes • Ron Huberman, Richard Rodriguez, at the operations level • Through technology changes • New Web site, their own alerts, RSS • Again: loosely coupled
  11. 11. Our own software changes • UPOC is dumb • People want to subscribe to specific lines • Twitter and FaceBook emerge as platforms • My own lack of skills become more of a pain in the butt
  12. 12. Enter Harper Reed
  13. 13. Pumping UPOC messages and CTA RSS to Twitter
  14. 14. More to come • More community • Retweet mechanism • Not to be morose, but it’s more useful in an emergency

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