Saturday, November 28, 2009

Web 2.0 and California High Speed Rail Planning

I have been working with Nadia Naik from Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design on ways to use Web 2.0 techniques to improve the California high speed rail system planning and design by increasing the ability for citizens to collaborate in the planning process.

We just wrote a draft paper called: Peer-to-plan CSS 2.0: A Web 2.0 application to facilitate public collaboration in the project planning and design process. It builds on the work described in my Transportation Research Paper: Web 2.0 Applications for Improving Public Participation in Transport Planning - described in a previous post. As it is a rough concept, I would be interested in your comments and ideas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Web 2.0 and California High Speed Rail Planning

TGV at Zurich Hauptbahnhof - October 2009 - from my flickr photos.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I just finished revising my TRB paper on Web 2.0 applications for improving public participation in the transportation planning process (download here: web2transport). Yesterday I was talking to someone about some of the ideas in the paper and I remembered a story I wrote in 2005 as part of a proposal for completing the Regional Rail Plan for the San Francisco Bay Area.

The story was a speech given by one of the participants in the Regional Rail Plan planning process given 25-years after completion of the California High Speed rail system. I just re-read the story and I was surprised about how good it is and how relevant so many of the points it raises are today. So, here's the link to a pdf file. As they say, sit back, relax and enjoy the trip!

San Francisco Bay Area Regional Rail Plan - A vision (2005)

(By the way, although people I talked with on the inside said that this story was an important reason for selecting the consultant team, the consultants never asked me to help with the project and I'm not sure what ever happened to the plan itself.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Web 2.0 applications to improve transport planning

Sunny day in Stockholm from my flickr photos.

I just posted the latest version of my US Transportation Research Board paper: Web 2.0 Applications for Improving Public Participation in Transport Planning on my website. I would love to get comments on the paper, so add one below or e-mail me directly.

I will be making a presentation on the paper at SPUR in San Francisco on January 7, 2010 and at the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington on Monday January 11. See my website for more details.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Car Trap in Holland

Daniel Sparing, a colleague from Hungary, just posted the photo above on his flickr site. It's a good picture of a public transport priority measure. He calls it a bus trap but says in the comment "or to be more precise, a car trap. Buses can pass through." He's got lots of great bicycling photos on his site too.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ode to a Miele

By Andy Nash (realname TM) "Vac-Master Nash"
Seriously? You want me to write a review for a vacuum cleaner? A vacuum cleaner. How is it that gmail doesn't catch these e-mails anyway? Oh well ...

It's a vacuum cleaner. I mean it's not like I bought it because I wanted to. Or because I really really liked it. What can I say? It was a gift. For my mother. In honor of all the vacuuming she did for me growing up. A thoughtful son, wouldn't you agree?

She sent me an e-mail saying she liked it. But, then, isn't that what all modern mothers do?

Photos? Now you want photos too? Well I do remember one with an old girlfriend. It was a hot steamy day and it was our first time doing serious ... cleaning ... what did you think I would put in a review? She began vacuuming TOPLESS! Thankfully Facebook wasn't around for sharing embarrassing photos then (what did we do without it?) so it's lost. But, wait, it was another brand of vacuum (funny the things you remember about relationships), so never mind!

What about design? Well if I wanted a cool design I would have bought a Dyson. By the way, aren't those Dyson Blade hand driers great? Most of those hand dryers in public restrooms are like Republicans, lots of hot air with no real use, but I digress.

The Miele does look cool. Perhaps I should draw a picture of it, making it look smaller and send it to the Transportation Security Administration. I could say that I saw someone trying to sneak one into an airplane restroom for who knows what evil purpose. Imagine being searched at airports for mini vacuums. Ignore this paragraph, in addition to shamelessly ripping off Graham Greene (Our man in Havana), it doesn't have anything to do with this review. (By the way, the book and film are great - oh no, now I'll need to write two more reviews.)

Is there a word requirement for a review?

Actually, I'll fess up. I actually have a Miele too. That's why I bought one for my mother. I can't say I like it, I mean who really likes vacuum cleaners? I hate using it, although I hate using it less than I hated using my old vacuum cleaner. As a vacuum cleaner it's pretty good.

I guess that's enough. Aren't you glad I didn't say the vacuum cleaner "sucks"?

Posted to Amazon on November 6, 2009 - I wonder how long it will last?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BART and Web 2.0

Sorry, I couldn't resist this photo from my
1992 campaign for BART Board Director.

I've been working on my TRB paper about the use of Web 2.0 applications in transportation and recently checked the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) website, and I have to say BART has done quite a good job.

First, the BART website provides all the information you need to use the system (schedule, station information, fares, etc.), so the basics are covered, but what I was interested in was how they are using Web 2.0 features.

I had read about BART's open policy for providing schedule data to outside developers and, there it was under schedules: a link to a page called BART developer resources describing how outside developers could use BART data to create applications. BART also has a page listing some of the applications developed by 3rd parties using this information.

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I learned about BART's work in this area in a report by Patrick Gendre and Didier Danflous from CETE Mediterranee called "User participation in Public Transportation and Multimodal Information". The report is only available in French right now but I am working on translating it (in all my spare time!). Their report focuses on important issues with data availability. They believe that all public agencies need to recognize that Web 2.0 applications from outside the organization are coming (like it or not) and recommend that public agencies embrace this change.

Back to BART ... their website also enables people to submit photos to BART for use on their webpage, facebook and twitter pages. The photos are selected by BART, so it's not totally consistent with Web 2.0 openness, but a nice effort. Also it's refreshing to find a public transport operator that encourages people to take photos (safely!) rather than one that considers everyone taking photos to be terrorists.

All in all I think BART has done a good job with their webpage and think other public transport operators could learn a great deal from it.

I am still working on my Web 2.0 in Transport paper, so if you have any ideas or other websites for me to check out, add them in the comments!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why Dilbert is Doomed

Zurich's Ingenieure Tram - encourages people to study engineering!

Here's an very interesting article from Salon by Michael Lind about jobs in the future called: Why Dilbert is Doomed. Health and education will be most in demand, and of course science/engineering will still be important.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Terra Madre Austria - Slow Food Vienna

Meat from Sergio Falaschi butcher shop, San Miniato, Italy.
Last week I helped Slow Food Vienna (German) with the Terra Madre Austria conference in Vienna. Terra Madre is a program sponsored by Slow Food to highlight local foods and local growers/producers. There is an International Terra Madre every two years in Turin Italy, and local Slow Food chapters organize their own versions regularly.

Enrico Gaggini with his Sorana Beans from Pescia, Italy.
The main idea is to highlight traditional local foods that are in danger of being lost due to the homogenization of the food industry. Heirloom tomatoes are a good example. The big food companies want consistent, easy to pick, easy to ship long distances and 'durable' tomatoes, we want taste and diversity.
Terra Madre consisted of three parts: a market of variety, a series of classes on specific local foods and an international congress.

Giuseppe Bartolomei with his Podere del Tordo wine, Pistoia Tuscany, Italy.
This was the first Terra Madre in Austria and several local foods were highlighted in the market of variety including: Wiener Gemischter Satz wine, Wachauer Safran (safran grown in the Wachau area of Austria), Grubenkraut (a very old method for conserving cabbage - you bury it four meters deep in the ground for up to three years), several old varieties of pork, traditional mountain cheeses, a unique version of corn that you grind, cook into small cakes and then serve with apple sauce and several other tasty treats. The idea is that a food is designated as a 'Presidio' and then a group is formed to support its preservation and encourage others to adopt it.

I volunteered to help a group of Italian producers who participated in the Terra Madre as guests. (I know a little Italian, but my wife and niece are quite good, so actually I volunteered them ... although they were only there a little while, but I spent the whole two days at the show.) We helped Alberto Bellesi, from Poggione, an olive oil producer (the green oil in this photo is only five days old), Enrico Gaggini, a producer of Sorana Beans, Giuseppe Bartolomei, from the winery Podera del Tordo in Pistoia (Tuscany), Andrea Falaschi from the butcher shop Sergio Falaschi in San Miniato, and Gulio Malvezzi who makes olive oil in Tuscany, but was showing traditional Pistola Mountain Peccorino cheese.

As a volunteer I found myself being pressed into action when the Rathaus Keller kitchen staff realized that they did not have enough people to peel all the "ox heart carrots" (another traditional food) needed for all the delicious carrot soup. So, I helped with several other volunteers for a couple hours peeling carrots in one of Vienna's finest restaurants. A good story....

The conference was also very good. The Slow Foods International founder Carlo Petrini gave a great call to arms explaining why food diversity is good for the planet, society and the economy. I loved the point he made that 'politicians always arrive too late to solve problems, so the people need to take the initiative for improving the world" amen to that!

One final thought, the Terra Madre was partly sponsored by the city of Vienna. The conference was held at city hall, the market was held in the city hall hof, the school for taste was held in the city hall. The city provided financial and logistic support. This is really a great thing about Vienna, the city supports lots of these types of conferences and seminars. The photo in the left is Andrea Falaschi carving the last pieces of the wild boar prosciutto from the bone, leaving a wonderful taste in our mouths as Terra Madre Austria 2009 ends.
More photos of Terra Madre Austria on my Flickr site.