Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pursuing my dream of a transit GIS system (Oct. 4, 2009)

Current mood: hopeful

I need to eat.

Seems simple enough, doesn't it? Survival, all that fun stuff, we know the drill. Getting there, though, with no job in a down economy, well, we know that drill, too. Which brings me to this small matter of ... well, I still need to eat.

My dream is, and for well over 15 years has been, to make it easier to get around by anything other than the automobile. Most of those years I focused on public transit. In the past couple of years, though, I've been too flippin' broke to use the bus myself, so have started using a bicycle to make 25-mile round trips into the city, 12 months out of the year. Being an activist on both the transit and cycling fronts is tiring, both physically and mentally.

As to transit, I intend to make money selling my knowledge of the area's transit system to those who could use it. Here's the plan: If you're in the real estate market, you want to be aware of how good (or not so good) the transit service is for a particular address. It might be possible to sit down with a stack of bus schedules and figure that out, but it would be a lot easier to hire that out.  *waves flag* Hi there! I can do that for you!

Let's raise the stakes. You're the Facilities Management person at a growing company, and The Boss says we need to find a bigger site. Do we stay put and expand, or go site hunting? Fully 25% of the employees already use transit. The farther out from the city you choose, the bigger a parking lot you'll need, which means real dollars in construction costs and ongoing costs in taxes and maintenance. So, of the 10 potential locations you're looking at, which would be the easiest to use in terms of transit? How would you line up 100 employees' potential use of transit at any of 10 addresses? Answer: You can't. There isn't anyone out there who can provide that service. *waves flag* Hi there! I can do that for you!

That's two uses of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for an information service to help people use transit. As far as I can tell, nobody is doing that. It's an unmet need. I'm the only person I know, in Pittsburgh at least, who seems to want to meet that need.

I think there's money to be made in that. I can think of a couple dozen other, similar ways that information could be in demand right now, if only the question was asked of the right people in the right setting.

What I need is seed money. I'm just little ol' me, cranking away by myself. I could use equipment, office space, and some help. I also need to feed myself and my family while I get this thing started.

No comments: