the power of opendata

Sometime it is hard to think that a feature rich application with years of development could be replaced by a new younger one. This gets even harder if you talk about services that have been pioneers and have totally redefined the way people go around.
But sometimes, the features are so powerful and so clear, that they are just all you need.

When I went to London last summer I started getting around using Google Maps as I use to since 2007.
In Italy, the public transport routing is a bit leaky, and most of the times, it suggests you to go by walking, but overall, is one of the best services you can find.
In London, things are different, and suggestions are quite precise about time, distance and transportation, so I was quite happy with it.
Then a friend showed me Citymapper and once again I realized what a good UI means especially on mobile: this app has been created just to take you around London in the best and easiest way.

The layout is clear and intuitive. It provides a classic Start/End interface using both search or tap selection with the possibility to choose between departure or arrival time (so you don’t have to think about whenever you need to leave to go somewhere).
Results show you as much as possibile solutions to get to your destination (bus, bike, walk, etc.) with informations like time, calories and how many minutes you need to walk.
So far it would look nothing more than a more intuitive app.
But the real magic comes under the hood.
The application takes the advantage of the huge opendata provided by the Transport for London website and displays real-time and accurate informations about transportations position, schedule, stations status and much more.
It can foresee delays and tube line congestions.
It can display nearest Barclays cycle hire hubs and statistics about how many bicycles are available.
There are so many information that I am not sure I got all of them. And everything is displayed in a beautiful design with particular attention to details.

After London, the service has been launched to New York on September and already won the Metropolitan Transit Authority App Quest prize as best overall app.
All these people loving it, cannot be wrong.
Citymapper is definitively one of the best app I have seen in the last years.

During my visit to the Silicon Milkroundabout, I had the opportunity to talk to one of the guys who works in this great startup.
I was curious about what’s next.
The application is free. It displays no adv. It does not sell you anything.
It is clearly working on making its customer base as big as possible, but I wonder what will be the next move.
Internationalization has been the first step, but trying to figure out which could be the next big city, it is hard to guess.
The main power of the app is the ability to take the most from the opendata, but I wonder how many cities around the world could provide such high quality data as London and New York do.
User interface and easy interaction are great everywhere, but less data means less accurate informations and they will lose the competitive advantage against companies that have their own dataset.

Surely with such a good product in their hand, they can do great things.
Setting up a partnership with transport companies to buy tickets or top up your card straight from the application could be one opportunity, or providing other type of shoppable products or services.
I have also talked to people that claim to be ready to pay a monthly subscription to use the app.

By they way, I think they are spoilt for choice.