How Bangkok’s 40,000-kilometer transport community was first mapped

This article was originally published by Christopher Carey on Cities today, the leading news platform for urban mobility and innovation reaching an international audience of city guides. For the latest updates, see Cities Today Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtubeor sign up for Cities Today News.

London-based mapping company WhereIsMyTransport completed the first comprehensive survey of Bangkok’s transport network and captured 40,000 kilometers of data across the city in 60 days.

The company, which specializes in mapping transportation data in emerging cities around the world, employed a team of 25 local data collectors to travel on the Thai capital’s public transportation network – including the MRI that BTS Skytrain and bus services – as well as the wide range of informal songthaew, minibus and riverboat routes that provide the majority of the first and last mile connections.

The on-site employees collected important data on routes and tariffs, which were uploaded to the WhereIsMyTransport database at the end of each journey.

Yohnny Raich, owner of the data product at WhereIsMyTransport, said Cities Today: “We did some research before we started collecting data to see if this was already in place and we couldn’t find a comprehensive source that gave an up-to-date overview of all transit options in the city. ”

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Through its research, the company found that while data on established routes such as MRT and BTS Skytrain was publicly available, there was inconsistencies in the timetables for localized bus services and a distinct lack of data for the wide range of informal privately operated minibuses providing services complement traditional public transport.

“I think the most interesting finding for us was the size and scope of the city’s transportation network – there are over 800 public transportation routes in Bangkok,” said Raich. “We have developed our own mobile application with which we can collect all relevant information – routes, frequencies, operating hours and approximate tariff payments, etc.”

The data collected from the Bangkok project can be licensed by organizations for a fee. Past clients include the World Bank, which used WhereIsMyTransport data to help assess urban accessibility in several African cities.

Mapping emerging cities

In February, WhereIsMyTransport raised $ 7.5 million in a Series A funding round, with investments from companies such as Google and Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC).

The startup began mapping cities in Africa in 2015 before expanding to India, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

It is currently focused on bridging the information gap on informal modes of transport such as minibuses and rickshaws, which make up a large proportion of urban travel in developing cities around the world.

After Mexico City and Dhaka, Bangkok is the third up-and-coming “megacity” in which IsMyTransport has mapped. The company plans to be the first mapping operator to collect a complete dataset on formal and informal public transport in the 30 largest cities in developing countries by 2023.

“Generating and maintaining this mobility data is a fundamental first step in transforming the public transport experience for hundreds of millions of people and thus transforming the social, cultural and economic landscape of these cities,” said Devin de Vries, CEO. WhereIsMyTransport.

“We recruit large local teams, train them to use our proprietary suite of tools, and work with them to gather data on public networks that they know better than anyone. This collaborative method means we uncover every nuance in these unique, native tools of transportation systems. “

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Published on January 19, 2021 – 16:30 UTC

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