UPDATE: This has been pulled by the DRA. More Information here.
UPDATE 2: The Downtown Raleigh Alliance has released their own mobile tracking application. More information here.
Like most technology these days, from the iPad to Twitter, a new service or product is created, but it has its obvious flaws. Along come third party developers to pick up the pieces and make the service that much more usable for a larger portion of the population.
In this case the technology is the R-Line bus online GPS tracking system that was made by Downtown Raleigh Alliance. The web interface is great for tracking the bus, but that assumes that you carry a laptop around with you all the time, able to pop it open at a local WIFI spot (sponsored by the DRA too) and check out where the bus is at any given point. This is the not the case for most folks, but someone in your group having a smart phone is a bit more frequent on a night out in the town.
In steps F.O. Finch and his company Open Intelligence to help R-line riders on-the-go. Open Intelligence has created a Google Maps based iPhone and Android friendly version of the R-Line Tracker that can be viewed at anytime from your mobile device. Considering the DRA stated that they had no plan to make a version for smart phones (because of theirs being built on Flash and the lack of Flash on smart phones), this was a great business move for Finch’s company.
Open Intelligence’s tracking map actually works pretty well on both the web and the phone. While it is nothing more than a flashing dot moving between all the noted R-Line stops, Finch assures us that it is only a “first release, so it’s pretty basic – but it gets the job done.” and they will be making improvements as time permits. A great first pass if you ask me, especially considering all you have to do is tap the application, wait a few seconds and you know where the bus is and then you can decide to head to your closest stop quickly or finish that pint of beer instead.
Go here for the map. iPhone users can do a quick “Add to Home Screen” using the plus sign at bottom of the browser and you’re set with an icon/bookmark (as seen in one of the images below).