Translink & Open Data #opengov

This entry was posted by on Monday, 24 October, 2011 at

In mid-September I went to a great conference organised by Brian Cleland. The amount of organisations was reasonably heartening although their message was less so. Essentially it boiled down to “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. GIS data being released in 2019 for instance and everything waiting on the publication of a report from Whitehall.

One of the local organisations which I, and I believe many others, feel is really dragging in terms of open data is Translink who operate the trains/buses etc here in Northern Ireland on behalf of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company which is a Public Corporation(essentially, I believe, a company owned by our government). There have been efforts in the past by some brave local individuals to access the data from Translink but with very little success, I believe some PDFs were acquired at one point but nothing which was easily machine readable. I wrote to Translink on the day of the event and received the following in response:

Thank you for your email of 22 September 2011 to our Feedback facility. Prompted by your e-mail I checked across our organisation and have not been able to confirm that any of the Translink team received an invitation to the event to which you refer.

That said, it would be wrong to conclude that Translink is not actively involved in the task of making its data more available to the public. The following lists some of the areas where Translink is making a valuable contribution in this sphere:

  1. We are working with the EU Inspire team to ensure Translink is fully compliant in the area of data share
  2. We have an ongoing programme in place to update our data across Metro, Goldline, Ulsterbus and NIR services  
  3. We are working with our sponsor department (DRD) and with representatives from DETI to explore ways in which we can make our data available to mobile apps developers I trust this brief response serves to assure you that Translink is playing an active role in this area.

The note I received highlights what I believe are some of the problems with Translink’s view on open data:

  1. Fully Compliant – why be fully compliant when you can exceed the standards required easily. Open the data up and you will be fully compliant.
  2. Programme in place to update the data – the data is there, open it up and the community will probably help you to keep it up to date. 
  3. Exploring ways to make the data available – It seems they have been exploring for a while. Why not check out this and more specifically this from the MTA in NYC? Free data available for developers to use.

It’s about time that the data was opened so that something can be done with it – there are some great apps out there already which have been pulled together from a screenscraping session but there should be more.

Why not tweet @translink_ni or write to them and ask them to open up the data?


Update 24th Oct 21:56: I have just done an FOI request  to ask for a bit more information from NITHC.