Scottish company leads the way on ‘open transport’ Application Programming Interface (API) standards

Project Swift

A Scottish digital technology company has spearheaded private sector moves to create a set of standards to allow interoperability of data between transport providers.

Ideal Interface, a digital strategy, technology implementation and online marketing consultancy based in Glasgow, has led the move towards the creation of the Open Transport Initiative, which is designed to further the creation & adoption of Open standards in mobility.

Altcom, a digital design, development and marketing company with extensive transport sector clients based in South West England, is also part of the scheme, which has seen the launch of Version 1 of the Open Transport Application Programming Interface (API) specifications, which are freely available for adoption. This is, say the companies, the first time an Open Standard for transport customer account interoperability has been designed and made available, an initiative that is “long overdue”.

‘Considerable effort from various transport and data specialists has gone into creating both the Customer Account and Centralised Operator Look-up Service API specifications. However, all the intellectual property created is being given away to the transportation industry, for the benefit of improving the customer experience,’ said the companies in a statement.

The initiative was started early 2019 by Ideal Interface, and The Open Transport Initiative became official in October 2019. At the same time the draft Customer Account Specification was released for wider industry review. Since then there has been significant peer review, public workshops and presentations to ensure the standard has covered the interests of all relevant parties as much as possible.

The two specifications created & launched are:

1. Customer-account API
A standard way to facilitate peer-to-peer transport data sharing and account interoperability, allowing the customer to view all their transportation, mobility and associated data in one place. No more searching across various apps and websites to join-up journey, ticket and discount data.

2. Centralised Operator-info API
A centralised look-up for all transport operators and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platforms. This first-of-a-kind transport directory service (similar to the sort code directory within the Financial Services Industry) will provide unique reference information about each mode of transport or mobility organisation, including any publicly available Customer-account API locations.

Similar vertical markets are also creating Open APIs and developing public technology standards. This is done to reduce duplication of effort, create consistency across different platforms and vendors, but also to foster innovation across a wider developer community. In making this innovation a completely open and free-to-use standard for the transport industry, it is hoped that this will increase its adoption in this important market too.

It is now in the hands of 1) transport authorities to mandate its use; 2) transport providers to add it to their specifications and requirements 3) transport/mobility providers to include it as part of their offering; as swiftly as possible.
For more information or to download the specification visit: https://opentransport.co.uk

Alex Croucher of VKY Automation, a full service Intelligent Automation/RPA provider based in Glasgow, said: “This is a great step for transport mobility and all transport providers, national and local authorities should insist on adoption of these data standards as they enable interoperability and mobility-as-a-service instead of creating commercialised data silos.”