Brussels flexes its Data Muscles

Special thanks to John Van Parys of Where’s My Villo? who stumbled upon our bike share data blog posts and wrote to us concerning his open data project in Brussels.  In Brussels, the bike share system exists because of a public-private partnership between the City of Brussels and JCDecaux who is allowed to advertise on the system in return for managing its use.  JCDecaux makes system data available on its servers, which Where’s My Villo? exploits, to allow users to see where bikes are available. Where’s My Villo? is an advocate for better bike sharing.  Mr. Van Parys and his friends are Villo! users who are somewhat frustrated with its management and want improvements.  So, they built a website to publish live data (updated every 5 minutes), reporting the worst stations for finding or locking a bike every day.  They’ve also created functionality for users to report their own issues.

It appears that their service has received a fair amount of attention.  The City of Brussels is even using it to monitor their partner’s performance. They’ve also been successful: according to Van Parys, JCDecaux reports they will be allocating more resources to reshuffling the bikes.

What is meant to be highlighted here is the power of open data to bring about transparency and change.  As we noted before, there are several websites now leveraging bike share data (for example, see London, Paris, and this other site from Brussels).  Imagine if this type of transparency were brought to other types of public-private partnerships, particularly in health and transport.

-Terra Curtis