Open-source cities: Tapping the software commons for future transit innovation

What if the first step to launching a new microtransit service in, say, Arlington County, Virginia, were as easy as downloading an open-source software suite to ART’s servers and mounting iPads in its minibuses, rather than a lengthy, convoluted “request for proposal” process? ART’s information technology team would download software from the open-source website GitHub, plug in publicly-available data about local travel patterns, customize logos and text, and hand over a complete, functioning on-demand software system to fleet managers and to residents in the form smartphone apps and websites. Behind the scenes, open-source coders and engineers would keep the whole thing running smoothly. Later on, ART could deeply customize its platform and contribute to the software package for other cities, towns, and counties across the globe. A community of innovative cities would become participants and contributors, completing the positive feedback loop of development and deployment.