A Geeky Community Project?

Last Tuesday, in a article titled “Portland, out of order“, the Trib took a swipe at the Streetcar Nextbus system:

Maybe the ticker signs at the streetcar stops with their wildly innaccurate arrival times.

My experience is that Nextbus is pretty accurate (I regularly check it from my cell phone web browser while getting around town).

So I’d love to have some actual data to clear its name. Or alternatively, have some data to show what the problems are, so we can fix them.

Our transit tools poll the Nextbus web site, so getting a history of arrival predictions is straightforward.

Could we compare this with actual arrivals to see how well the system does. Here’s what I think we’d need:

  • Site with Wi-Fi access and visibility of a regularly used Streetcar stop
  • A webcam
  • Some kind of image processing algorithm that could look at a captured image, say every thirty seconds, and decide if there was a Streetcar in the frame or not.

Does our community have these ingredients? Can we bring them together for a little project?

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