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Civil Technology for Sustainable Transport: showcase for crowdsourcing for Public Transport

Case study in Pittsburgh, more information available at

Helsinki Region Transport (HSL), joint local authorities in Helsinki, piloted a new instant feedbacks on ten buses in cooperation with two buses operators. During the pilot, passengers were able to give real-time feedback with their smartphones with the help of stickers (NFC, QR code or url). 

Big Data Europe

Andrew Nash, “Crowdsourcing: it is arrived, are you on board ?”, Presentation at CIPTEC joint meeting with EMTA Annual members meeting in Budapest, May 2016 available at


The mitigation of the possibility for the user to use the crowdsourcing in a fraudulent way must be a target. Furthermore repeated use of the crowdsourcing tool by the same user to provide the same notification more times should be avoided. On the other hand, the use of the crowdsourcing tool must be simple and the users should be reminded by the crowdsourcing tool to send its input/feedbacks (i.e. once each five accesses, each time a specific functionality is used, etc.)

A suitable option for the implementation of a crowdsourcing tool is to manage this as functionality of a Public Transport information APP (and related back-end platform). The user should have the possibility to provide its feedback/input in a “smart” and “transparent” way (without additional efforts) just as a new step using the APP functionalities.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging the public to report problems and possibly suggest how to improve services. Based on the type of platform the individual has the ability to be involved in different ways in their social-local community by addressing problems, discussing alternative solutions, providing real-time useful information to other users of the platform

Crowdsourcing is a social innovation that allows the people who are actually using the product (transport) to feel that their voice can be heard and their opinion matters. The crowdsourcing can be used:

  • to have “real-time” info about the service operation (i.e. driver behavior, level of cleanness, vehicle occupancy, traffic congestion, irregular conditions during the operation, etc.) which could help PTOs in optimization the process of service planning and quality control
  • to register the travelers information (origin, destinations, line, etc.) in order to better understand the demand
  • to assess the level of users satisfaction about the Public Transport performances (reliability, etc.) or some supporting services (APP for user information, ticketing system, information campaign, etc.).
  • to assess the level of acceptance of future Public Transport initiatives (changes of lines, new kind of services, etc.)

Location data can be sent together with the event notification (if the user accepted to provide this). Users must be aware that such data will not be used for tracking them or their travel behaviour.

The implementation can deal with different options: from dedicated platforms to on-line questionnaires linked to Google docs and access through social media account can be a scenario.

Data mining tools can be linked in order to extract knowledge from the data collect and cross-relate them with other info coming from ITS, staff notifications, etc.

  • ITS
  • Marketing and promotion, customer care
  • Service models, organization and management
  • Societal involvement, new entrepreneurship

Implementation case
  • Goal-oriented/efficient organization
  • Increase customer satisfaction

  • Adaptiveness to evolving markets and customer needs
  • Better experience
  • Improving customer orientation
  • Performance orientation

  • Individual empowerment
  • Innovative technologies

A promotional campaign is a key action to involve as much Public Transport users as possible: this is a mandatory step in order to achieve mass large use of the crowdsourcing tool and then to gain a statistical consistency in the analysis of the collected data. The promotional campaign must include a clear explanation of user procedure (and use cases), a presentation of the benefits, the user will achieve in Public Transport daily use providing its own feedback/input and it must clarify how the privacy issue will be faced/solved. A check of privacy issue with legal support is recommended. Also incentives (in terms of prize, free tickets, rewarding, etc.) can be used to incentive the users to participate in the crowdsourcing campaign

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