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.