CTA Alerts

CTA alerts is a rider-to-rider wireless notification utility that allows riders and Chicago Transit Authority officials to communicate status during service outages. I set up the service in August 2005. It has never gone down. I’d say that less than 3% of the posts are bogus or of the “hey what’s up ya’ll?” nature. Here are the components:

  • Free public website, www.upoc.com
  • Create group with the proper settins (anyone can post, anyone can invite)
  • Publicize the site in the most relevant places. In this case, it’s at my brother’s CTA-focused weblog, CTA Tattler. This way, you get the critical mass of people posting and consuming
  • Convince the entity with the highest quality information— in this case, the CTA— to participate as a member of the group. This ensures that the service gets all the standard info gets into your service
  • Get publicity
  • Maintain the group– boot the trolls and the useless types

That’s about it.

  • Time spent setting up group: 20 minutes
  • Cost to set up group: $0
  • Time spent maintaining group: 1.5 hours/ year

The CTA said they were engaging a company to create a custom alerts system, and hired a company for $80,000 to do it. So far nothing has been released.

A fine example of Open Source Homeland— public/ private cooperation to make things better.

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