11 February, 2013

Cycling is Part of City's Culture

Every city should have its own vibe, it should feel different from other cities. "Different" makes them beautiful. Cities evolve differently based on its location, weather, history, architecture/buildings, traditions and more importantly values/priorities, skills and dreams of majority of people living in the cities.

Not all cities wants to be a mere "job creating" machine, where people somehow manage to get to office, slog for 8 to 10 hours and then disappear into the comforts of their homes. Some cities value various combinations of nature, art and music, education, fine architecture, romance and quality of life over other things that are opposite of these things.

How do I decide what vision is best for city? It is quite possible that you are a new citizen of a city (migrated just few years ago from other place). If you take a look at some of the most beautiful cities in the world, then may be it will help you finalize your vision for your city.

Copenhagen, Denmark 

Source: Sonia's Travels

Bangaluru, India

Citizens should have a vision for city they live in and should make their voice heard. Ashwin Mahesh from Bangaluru has great dream (shared by many others) for his city.  He recently described as part of this dream as a Facebook post. I quote:
Am happy to see the Namma Cycle program at IISc stabilising over time. We're reaching a stage where every event that is held on campus also becomes an opportunity to promote NC, and a lot of visitors are also interested in using the bikes for a tour of the campus. Murali and others have finished mapping the demand pattern for bikes inside the campus, and more pick up and drop off locations are also being established.

The next step is to connect the in-campus program to residential communities around and near IISc, and also to major bus stops like the 18th cross location in Malleswaram. If you happen to live near IISc, please engage with the NC to see how bicycling can be promoted in your neighbourhood.
For more: Read Ashiwin's Facebook post. For more about Namma Cycle Program click here.
Pune India
Citizens of Pune also share a dream of cycling friendly city.
  What is your vision for your city? Is your city's culture different than other cities?

08 February, 2013

First Free Software, Next Open Data

I plan to give a talk on "Open data" at GNUnify 2013, SICSR Pune.

The talk will be based on my experience and attempts to make public data available on the Internet in standard format. Specifically:
+ Public transportation data in GTFS format
+ Accidents Statistics (various reports)

As Internet users in India grow, it becomes tremendously important to make useful public data available for citizens. Informed citizens is basic assumption of real vibrant and active democracy. Else few people will yield power and citizens will remain in dark.

I will give some examples of Govt. agencies who refuse the publish public data
+ RTO of any city like Pune should public vehicle registration and driving license related data. They have a page under construction for last 3 year.
+ Municipal corporation is supposed to public various useful map layers (gardens, no development zones, schools etc.)
+ Census information
+ Election voter registration statistics

It is not easy to find answers to these questions. This must change, and this talk is about how to achieve that change.