The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been in the news this week for it’s new Subway Time app, but that isn’t the only transportation app that they or several other creative individuals have created to use in the city. There are over 65 officially sanctioned MTA apps including the Exit Strategy NYC which allows users to determine the most ideal place to stand on a subway car or platform to real time bus schedules, historic bus tours, and 3d Maps to explore New York City. One of the most interesting facts about these apps is the backstory of how and why they were created. Most of them begin with someone who has an idea, problem, or need and spends time making a geospatial solution that meets their needs and in doing so meets the needs of a section of the larger population.
The MTA serves North America’s largest transportation network providing over 14.9 million people with 5,000 square miles of inspiration. This inspiration is supported by the fact that the MTA has an in house geospatial technology department and provides a Developer’s Resources page to encourage application development. In the past, the MTA created a Challenge Quest – MTA App Quest to challenge software developers to use MTA developers to create new apps. The use of the word software developers, highlights its use as an umbrella term to capture anything related to app development, such as geospatial developers, graphic designers, and others. A review of the plethora of different types of contributers to the over 65 MTA apps indicates that it might be time to begin thinking of a more accurate term to describe app developers.